|Ireland is beginning to move forward on the long long road to advancing their Vatican II vision of Church.|
Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests held a conference this past weekend in Dublin at which attendance far surpassed organizers estimates. Over 1000 people showed up instead of the expected 200. The following article take from Clerical Whispers notes some interesting demographics and gives a good over view of the concerns of attendees. Although it 's easy for me to imagine that the Cardinal Brady situation helped attendance numbers, I still think the Irish hierarchy took note. Events are moving fast in Ireland and not in Rome's direction.
1000 attend conference on future of Catholic Church
ANALYSIS: Speakers showed the spirit of compassion unleashed by Vatican 11 remains alive.
TWO OUTSTANDING characteristics were immediately evident at the “Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church” event in Dublin yesterday morning.
One was the unexpectedly large number there.
The other was their age profile.
One of the organisers, Fr Brendan Hoban, parish priest in Moygownagh, Co Mayo, and a member of the Association of Catholic Priests leadership team, seemed taken aback. They had expected 200, he said, but “there are in excess of 900”.
The number increased to well over 1,000 and, unusually for a day-long conference, continued to grow as the day progressed. The attendance was, Fr Hoban felt, “a huge statement” of the desire of Catholics for change.
Many were priests, many were nuns, most were laity. Almost all were middle-aged and older.
But then the average age of an Irish Catholic priest today is 64, while the age profile generally seemed an accurate reflection of those at any weekend Mass. They were broadly representative of Ireland’s practising Catholics.
Even a couple of younger people who spoke during open sessions were an accurate representation in number and view of that increasingly strident, traditionalist element among young Irish Catholics today.
Though there were also more liberally minded young Catholics there too.
But, and typically, they were less assertive than their traditionalist peers and did not get the chance to speak.
Still, that is to digress from the spirit of yesterday’s event which was overwhelmingly of Vatican II, as articulated again and again by those forever loyal children of that great council.
Despite four decades of rowing back by Rome it was evident from yesterday’s contributions that the 60s spirit of openness, inclusiveness and compassion unleashed by Pope John XXIII remains alive and well in the Irish Catholic Church.
Also striking was the passion with which contributors spoke. It was to be reminded once more that in the Ireland of today it is not to the young one looks for those grand old architects of change: courage, drive, commitment, or its great engine, anger. You look to the older generations.
It was to be reminded that the only real people revolution of recent years in Ireland was when the over-70s faced down Brian Lenihan over their medical cards in October 2008.
Of course age is itself a reason why people such as those at yesterday’s assembly are prepared to stand up and say they are not going to take it anymore.
For the laity among, then life’s responsibilities have been discharged and there’s little to lose.
For the priests and nuns present the attitude was one of “what more can they do to me”?
It is early days and there’s a long way to go, as Fr Hoban also said, but something was unleashed yesterday.
Time will tell “what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”?
I truly have to admit I get ever so tired of hearing young traditionalists denigrate the Vatican II blue hairs and the ever aging out of existence LCWR. Part of my frustration is they seem to be utterly blind to the simple fact Benedict and his curia are even older, a generation older, and that the priesthood itself is aging out of existence. In Ireland the average age is 64 and it's only slightly better in the US. Who do these young traditionalists think is going to 'save' the Church. Certainly not them, they just don't have the numbers nor the resources. It certainly isn't going to be Pope Benedict's age bracket, unless it's the women. That leaves the boomers, and that's who is showing up at conferences like this one held in Dublin by the ACP.
I can freely admit it maybe time the 'boomers' got off the cultural stage and let the younger generations take up the mantle, but not on the spiritual stage. It is on this stage that we have the time and the resources and the motivation to work for change in Roman Catholicism. This is especially true if we want to leave anything meaningful after we have permanently left the stage. One of the big reasons I believe this is because the young trads have no clue what they are supporting in their drive to return Catholicism to pre Vatican II days. That period was not just about the Gregorian Chant and the Tridentine Latin Masses of their fantasies. It was also about a practical theology which used huge amounts of fear to enact a conformity by terrorizing laity, especially children, with threats of eternal damnation for virtually everything. Scrupulosity was a real and present danger. Many of us got so discombobulated we would make up sins, lie essentially, so we could delude ourselves into thinking we made a 'good' confession and could then go to communion. It was a crazy time, not a spiritually beneficial time.
Vatican II did not just open windows, it got rid of an enormous amount of fear and opened us up to the possibility of relating to a very different kind of Jesus. Because of that, we began to see beyond our own little parish ghetto and gaze upon a much bigger world. It was a world crying in it's pain. It is the world the LCWR orders chose to minister to and the world to which it still has that commitment. It is the world that still desperately needs the vision of the Vatican II church. That vision is big enough to include Latin Masses and Gregorian chant. It's big enough to include believers who still desire an external form of conscience and behavioral control. Why wouldn't it be, that's where we all start our faith journey, but that's not where the People of God should finish and conformance to an external authority should never be mandated. People do move past using training wheels to ride a bike. No one should ever be commanded to always use training wheels because then they never learn to balance---and falling down and getting back on is part of that process.
The second major change didn't quite make it out of Vatican II and that change involves the status of women. That just has to change. I read a comment on an NCR article this morning where the gentleman is listing historical attitudes towards sex offered by the early doctors of the Church. It's just ugly, and their ideas about women were uglier, but it struck me that the Church has had no female voices speaking about sex and gender. Our entire history has been men, mostly terrified or disgusted by their own sexuality, assuming the right to teach women about female sexuality. It is literally impossible for most Catholics to conceive of this dynamic working the other way around. We can't go into the twenty first century leaving the voice of over half the Catholic population officially silenced. Just can't happen.
In any event, if Ireland is destined to save Western Catholic civilization one more time, they seem to be off to a good start. It would help if the rest of us blue haired Vat II lovers would join them in their effort.