Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Irish Lowerarchy Are Finding Their Voices-- And They Are Not Singing "Irish Eyes Are Smiling"

Perhaps the start of a path for conversion is happening in Ireland.  I don't know though that this is the kind of conversion Benedict was thinking about.

Hundreds turnout for priests' meeting

GENEVIEVE CARBERY- Irish Times - 9-15-201-

Challenging the role of women in the church and the treatment of priests falsely accused of abuse are among the objectives which were outlined at the inaugural meeting of the Association of Irish Priests today

Some 300 priests turned out for the meeting of the association which aims to provide a “voice” for clergy. Organisers had expected between 50 to 70 priests to attend the meeting at the parish centre in Portlaoise, Co Laois and had to change venue to accommodate the interest.

The high turnout showed that the association had “touched a nerve “ and that there was a “voice needed” by the Irish clergy, one of the founders Fr Brendan Hoban said.

The association will be very proactive and will have spokesmen on issues that arise in the church and society, Fr Hoban said.

He outlined the aims and objectives which he said are based on the teachings of the second Vatican council. They received overwhelming support at the meeting.

The role of women in the church is of concern to the organisation and is “in need of a change” Fr Hoban said.

The organisation will campaign for the rights of priests who have been wrongly accused of child sexual abuse and have not been support by their diocese and priests who have been left in “limbo situations” where their right to natural justice is denied, he said.

Other issues which the association will highlight are the involvement of lay people in the church and the opposition among priests to a new English translation of the Mass. It will also campaign for a church which is not governed by a clerical elite but recognised the equality of all members.

The association will be seeking discussions with Apostolic visitors from the Vatican that are due to visit Ireland.

The low morale among priests due to the difficult times for the church was also addressed at the meeting. “Authority is diminishing, vocations are in free-fall, practice is declining, the age-level of priests is increasing all the time and priests find themselves under growing pressure, “ Fr Hoban said

“At the moment priests feel they have no voice and feel they are not understood,” (That might be because bishops are too busy playing CYA games with the Vatican and their individual priests make good footballs.)

The association has said it is not anti-bishop but pro-priests however it is not a union and will not represent or be supported by all priests.

The organisation aims to have a representative in each diocese to canvas support and hopes to have a “sizeable percentage” of some 4000 Irish priests as members, Fr Hoban said.

Many of Ireland’s best known priests backed the association in the initial publication of its aims earlier this month including Iggy O’Donovan, Peter McVerry, Sean Healy, Colm Kilcoyne, Brian Darcy, Donal Dorr.


It maybe that this particular group represents the one reform group that Benedict will take very seriously. This is as opposed to the groups of reformers and dissenters he will face in Britain.  I don't think British humanists and atheists are going to have quite the impact this group of priests from Ireland will have on the Vatican.  A year from now we may find out that this initial group of 300 priests is just the minuscule tip of the proverbial iceberg. 

Priests have a vested interest in the Church which far surpasses most of us a laity.  Since the vast majority of them have the greater part of their experience in Vatican II theology and notions of ecclesiology I've often thought it must be very difficult for them to watch and have to participate in the Vatican's notion of the 'reform of the reform'.  There for I don't find it surprising at all that one of their stated concerns is the new English translation of the Novus Ordo.  They know this represents far more than a symbolic tweaking of translations.  It is a very direct statement about the resurgence of Vatican authority and centralization, and it's aimed at them as much as it is at the laity.  The new translation is the gravestone on any notions of collegiality and subsidiarity. The lowerarchy has as much influence in the shape of the Church as the laity--as in none.  They also have the additional burden of towing the line to keep a roof over their heads. For many of them this must truly be a burden on their conscience.

I could have written on the Pope's touchdown in Edinburgh and his statements on the trip over about the abuse crisis, but I think this story is just as important,  I don't want it to get lost in all the other papal hoopla.  We've heard papal apologies before and nothing on the governance level has changed.  There is no apology Benedict can give which will mask the truth about apologies spoken by Belgium's Bishop Guy Harpigni of Tournai.  "“We did not dare. If you officially apologise, then you are acknowledging moral and legal responsibility. Then there are people who ask for money and we don't know what lawyers and the courts will do about that," he said.

In the conflict between mission and money, money has won far too many times to count. "We did not dare."
Well these 300 priests in Ireland have dared to act on their concerns about the mission of the Church.  That is truly refreshing.  They have stated they are not anti-bishop and I can believe it.  There is no reason to be anti-bishop when the bishops themselves are masters at that. 

If these men can stay the course and continue to find their voices, they might just find there will be a lot of smiling Irish eyes--standing right beside them.


  1. "The regions producing the most priests are in the third world - specifically Africa and Asia. North America, South America and Europe are steadily decreasing, but not without their own small isolated exceptions of growth. Interestingly enough, they are exclusively in ORTHODOX and CONSERVATIVE seminaries, and they come from ORTHODOX and CONSERVATIVE diocese, with ORTHODOX and CONSERVATIVE bishops"


  2. Jasper- the church should not be proud of gaining more adherents in less modern and less educated places. These people are being led by the nose, in some cases dangerously, because they don't know any better, eg. condoms, gay issues ect. The industrial West with centuries of the Enlightenment and Science behind it, is far better off and has a long memory of church inspired evil ever present before it. Not to mention the media framework in place to root out that evil when it occurs. Has Vatican leadership becoming more orthodox, more conservative, helped the western churches? No, the mass exodus has merely intensified with my generation leading the way.

    The heart will never accept what the head cannot believe.


  3. Jasper there is nothing interesting about that. It is entirely predictable. The Catholic Church in the West is no longer a welcome place for any but those who are attracted to certitude and rigid order.

    In the third world the priesthood is a way out of poverty as well as a door to education and the social status that comes with it. None of your statistics are a surprise, but they really should cause you some concern.

    What has happened in the West will certainly happen in Africa and Asia, just as it is occuring with a slightly different variant in South America. No matter how badly the Vatican wants it, the clock of human time moves forward in an evolutionary paradigm, not backwards in a regressionary paradigm.

  4. In the Spain of my husband's youth, the poor were regularly promised that if they gave a son to the priesthood, that son would take care of the mother in her old age... After the Spanish Civil War, when many mothers could not feed their children, giving one (or more) to the church was a way to ensure their survival. The same kind of thing happens today in many poor villages in Africa or India and so on.

    Instead of the church ensuring the welfare of all children, it uses barter to gain priests. And that is a very sad commentary!

  5. "Thousands" turned out to see the pope. But they had room for 10,000 more - who apparently never signed up. Indeed, they had hoped for even greater numbers. But finally settled on a venue where they would hope for 80,000. 12.5% empty. On the first day.

  6. That conservative seminaries are turning out more priests is hardly surprising, as Colleen mentioned.

    It has been observed by seminary faculty that these seminarians are frequently anti-intellectual and uninterested in learning theology because it might undermine their preconceived ideas. In short, they are not intellectually equipped to meet the challenges of the modern world, and they will not be up to the task of "re-evangelizing the West."

    The 20th century produced dozens of priest-theologians of the highest rank. The 21st century will not. Unless things change in a big way, the best Catholic theologians of the future will all be laypeople, i.e., people who have no official power within the Church.

  7. "These people are being led by the nose, in some cases dangerously, because they don't know any better"

    Oh, is that true?

    "In short, they are not intellectually equipped to meet the challenges of the modern world"

    Oh, I see.

    "It has been observed by seminary faculty that these seminarians are frequently anti-intellectual"

    Oh really?

    I wish us neanderthals could be as smart as you people..


  8. Colleen, this story is very important. I hope there can be a movement of fearless priests all over the world. the Bishops have shown that they are pre-notochordal.
    I am hopping that these groups can join up with the Woman Priest movement and the unaligned catholic movements all over the world. If the Pope does not listen, they may want to band together and leave him behind. The Vatican is only a museum. One day all Catholics and Christians will understand that.

    Some priests are listening to the Holy Spirit. They will need to be strong and to have our encouragement. Maybe I can send some of the money that I send to the Salvation army and other decent charities to a group like this. dennis

  9. Neither relying on the past nor holding on to its crumbs will solve the problems of today and tomorrow. The apparent vitality of the churches in the Third World today is misleading. It appears very probable that these new churches eventually will pass through the same crises that the old European Christianity encountered.

    Modernity is irreversible and having forgotten this is why the church today finds itself in such a crisis. Vatican II tried to reverse four centuries of stagnation, but there is an impression that the church is gradually closing the doors that it opened at that time. The church has tried to direct itself backwards towards the council of Trent and Vatican I rather than forward toward Vatican III. Let's remember a statement that John Paul II repeated many times, "There is no alternative to Vatican II."

    How long will we continue playing the politics of the ostrich hiding our heads in the sand? How long will we avoid looking things in the face? How long will we continue turning our back and rejecting every criticism rather than seeing it as a chance for renewal? How long will we continue to postpone a reform that has been neglected for too long a time?

    Only by looking forward and not backward will the church fulfill its mission to be the light of the world, salt of the earth, and leaven in the dough. Nevertheless, unfortunately what we find today is that the church is the caboose of our age after having been the locomotive for centuries.

    I repeat again what I said at the beginning of this letter. Time is running out! History doesn't wait especially in our era when it its rhythm flows ever more rapidly.

    Any business when confronting a deficit or dysfunction examines itself immediately, bringing together a group of experts, trying to revitalize itself, and mobilizing all its energies to overcoming the crisis. Why doesn't the church do something different? Why doesn't it mobilize all its living forces to have a radical aggiornamento? Why?

    Because of laziness? Lethargy? Pride? Lack of imagination? Lack of creativity? Culpable passivity in the hope that the Lord will take care of things and because the church has weathered other crises in the past.

    In the Gospels, Christ warns us that "the children of darkness manage their affairs better than the children of light."

    So then, what needs to be done? The Church of today has an urgent and compelling need for a three-pronged reform.

    1. A theological and catechetical reform to rethink our faith and reformulate it in a coherent way for our contemporaries. A faith that has no significance and gives no meaning to life is nothing more than an ornament, a useless superstructure that eventually implodes upon itself. This is the current situation. (continued in next post)

  10. 2. A pastoral reformulation that re-thinks from head to toe the structures inherited from the past.

    3. A spiritual renewal to revitalize the mystical and to rethink the sacraments with the view of giving them an existential dimension, one that connects with life.

    I would have much more to say about this. Today's church is too formal, too formalistic. One has the impression that the institution suffocates its charisma, and in the end what one finds is purely external stability, a superficial honesty, a kind of facade. Don't we run the risk that Jesus will describe us as the "whitened seplechres"?

    In conclusion, I suggest convoking a general synod at the level of the universal church in which all Christians would participate-Catholics and others-to examine with openness and clarity the issues raised above and their ramifications.

    Such a synod would last three years and would conclude with a general assembly-let's avoid the word council-which would synthesize the results of this exploration and draw its conclusions. (Cont next post)

    I end, Holy Father, by asking your pardon for my outspoken boldness and I ask for your paternal blessing. Let me also tell you that in these days I live in your company thanks to your extraordinary book, Jesus of Nazareth, which is the focus of my spiritual reading and daily meditation.

    With the utmost affection in the Lord,

    Henri Boulad

    Henri Boulad, S.J. ix a priest in Egypt and rector of the Jesuit school in Cairo.

  11. Colleen,
    I had some difficulty with 2 posts! I was told that they were too large to post but when I cut them into separate posts and reposted, I found the original post that was too large to publish had been published. After I got the part of this wonderful letter that I wanted to share with every one, I noticed that I had cut off my introduction to the Author. No matter his name and position appears at the bottom of the last post. dennis

  12. Dennis I posted on Fr. Boulad's letter a while back. His letter is kind of hard to forget. Maybe we should make sure these priests in Ireland know of it. Here's the link to the letter and the previous discussion:

    As to your posting problems, this commenting program has been doing that for some time. Once a certain number of words is reached it says it's too long to post, but then posts it anyway. It lies.

  13. Thank you Colleen, I may have gotten this letter from you in the first place. I see I posted on it. I went through a very bad spring with my health but am some better now so I forgot to label where I got that letter and just found it again today by accident. What a wonderful letter. I sent it to some Priest friends of mine. YOu are correct this letter should be sent to this group of Irish priests. dennis

  14. "Woman Priest movement"

    You all should understand that this will never happen.Ever.


  15. Ah, Jasper, you should understand that a licit female Roman Catholic priesthood has occurred in our lifetimes. It was behind the Iron Curtain, secretive but known and approved by the Vatican, and suppressed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Whether or not it was true of the early Church (I think the evidence is sufficient, and you do not), it is true now.

    Note the amount of disinformation you receive -- "We can never do this." Why? Note that the Church perceives communism as a threat to pull out all the stops for (and we both agree to that), but doesn't think the lack of availability of Holy Eucharist is enough of a crisis to act. Why?

    I think you've been sold a bill of goods, Jasper. I think your non sequitur posting proves it. Keep praying.

  16. The priest in the Woman Priest Movement also seem licit as they originally were ordained by Roman Catholic Bishops that do not want their names made public until they die because of the consequences from an unwise Vatican leadership. These Women are validly ordained and certainly are Apostolic according to RCC definition. I don't agree with RCC definition as I believe Apostolic more refers to Baptism than ordination. But these women meet even RCC definition. dennis

  17. Dennis,

    You're full of baloney.


  18. A question I put to "Traddies" is would they submit in obedience if the Holy See sanctioned women's ordination or shifted to a relational sort of moral framework rather than the natural law? They avoid it by saying it would never happen. When I ask them to humor me with the hypothesis, many admit they would become "sedevacantes." I admire their honesty. It also reveals how convenient obedience becomes as a virtue when it serves our ideological stance.

  19. Jasper, Dennis is not full of baloney. The response to this movement from the Vatican should tell you that. They know the original women were validly ordained by three Roman Catholic bishops. They have gone to great lengths to dispute the licitness of the ordinations, but if they attack the validity, they also attack their own claims concerning the Apostolic authority of their own ordinations.

    There have been attempts to claim the ordinations were invalid based on notions of women not being the correct 'species' in order to recieve the sacramental charism. The same sort of reasoning is used to deny ordination to men who lack the necessary male genitalia. No penis, no ordination. I'm sure Jesus is overjoyed with such infantile thinking.

  20. I've found the same response Kevin. It's the classic it's my Church when it's doing things my way thinking for which progressives are routinely accused.

    Someday there might be a pope who will understand the way to open up the Church to all will be to incorporate and validate both perspectives. That will probably take more autocthonous rites.

    Benedict is sort of attempting this path with the Anglicans and the SSPX. Now if only he would see re evangelizing the west is going to take accomodation in the other direction.

  21. It takes a Jew:

    "this pope, a blunder-prone spiritual leader of rigid intellect and uncommunicative soul, too remote to heal a church in crisis."


  22. I sent the Henri Boulad letter to the Association of Irish Priests today. Hope they catch it and make good use of it. dennis

  23. Being somewhat rather more than merely unfamiliar with the women priest movement myself, mjc: Would you elaborate on your comment of licit women priests approved by the Vatican behind the Iron Curtain? I'd never heard that before. I'm not challenging you. Just would like an idea of where to look for more info. Thanks.


    word verification: diestomp
    Really? Die stomp?! LOL

  24. Colkoch- "men who lack the necessary genitalia." 0.0 They seriously have this (for lack of a better word)reasoning? Even after the rather famous Bible story of Peter waking up from his dream to ordain the Ethiopian eunuch? Bishop Spong uses this exact story as an example of our faith tradition overcoming it's old tribalistic boundaries to more fully embrace the whole human family, that is truly embarrassing. But then again I suppose I shouldn't be very surprised.


  25. "this pope, a blunder-prone spiritual leader of rigid intellect and uncommunicative soul, too remote to heal a church in crisis."

    The NYTimes? Now there's an unbiased source.


  26. Physical impediments, for the most part, can be waved by a Bishop. I doubt lack of genitalia would be an issue now a days unless it was a case of self mutilation.

    Pre Vatican II it was a different story. This is why the castrati could not be ordained. Which is kind of ironic since the major reason for the castrati was to avoid the use of women in church choirs. Catholicism has quite the history of sexual abuse for the sake of keeping the altar free of women.

  27. I am by no means an expert on this, Veronica. Ludmila Javorova was ordained in Czechoslovakia in the underground church. The book (I haven't read it) is Out of the Depths by Sr Miriam Therese Winter. I found these on NCR in the year 2000,, and even a disparaging remark about the book from Hope that helps.

  28. "The times have often favored a female priesthood and never more so than when Christ ordained His first priests, nearly 2,000 years ago. Virtually all the pagan religions of His day had priestesses, and it would have been entirely normal and natural for Him to choose women for this task. He had, moreover, a number of excellent potential candidates, from His own Mother, who accompanied Him at His first miracle and stood with Him as He suffered on the cross, to Mary Magdalene or the women of Bethany. Instead, He chose only men, and He remained immovable on this, continuing right to the end to exhort and train them all, leaving thus a Church which turned out to be safely founded on a rock. From those twelve men a direct line of apostolic succession has given the Catholic Church the bishops and priests it has today.

    In the Church’s latest statement on this matter, Pope John Paul II, using his full authority as the successor of Peter, states categorically that the Church cannot — not will not, but cannot — ordain women, now or in the future. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets it out clearly, quoting the decree Inter insigniores:

    Only a baptized man (vir) receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. "


    Dennis, do you know better than JP2?

  29. The argument that "Jesus only chose men to be apostles, so only men can be priests" is convincing only to those who are desperate to defend the all-male priesthood.

    The Twelve Apostles were not priests. They were not ordained. The priesthood is a post-apostolic invention. The rules governing the priesthood were made by the leaders of the church, and this means they can be changed by the leaders of the church.

    Having said that, I think the priesthood as we know it is dying and needs to die. Ordaining women will only slow the process, so I'm not particularly in favour of it right now.

  30. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for all are one in the body of Christ.

    Usury used to be a mortal sin through the 1500's. Now it is the Vatican Bank.

    Military involvement used to be a mortal sin through the 3rd century. Now we have military chaplains.

    Enjoying marital relations used to be a mortal sin through the time of Augustine. Augustine argued successfully that that would be venial. The guys deferred to him because he'd actually had some experience. In the 1930's the dual role of marital sexuality was stated.

    Does John Paul know more than St Paul? Are all of these changes errors? sins?

    You are being sold something, Jasper. Keep praying.

  31. Benedict will take priests seriously? Dream on. He has already pushed through the ghastly new translations, ignoring the outcry from priests. His Year of Priests prescribed the masochism of the Cure d'Ars as a model for all.