Meeting for the southern dioceses held on 23 Nov.
ACP members in the southern dioceses attend a meeting in Charleville on Wed November 23rd 2011
35 Priests attended the hour and a half meeting.
Tim Hazelwood (Cloyne) chaired and opened the meeting with a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Tony Flannery from the Leadership Team suggested a few items to be discussed and gave an overview of recent issues they have found themselves dealing with, but emphasised that this was a listening session so he invited open discussion. The Association now has over 600 members.
1. A lot of the early contributions concentrated on the Fr Kevin Reynolds story. The Association was congratulated frequently on their support and priests said they were taking solace and great heart from the support and emerging truths in the controversy. Even Robert Dore (Fr Reynolds solicitor) is surprised at the way the human rights of the priest and natural justice are breached even by Church authorities, and a letter has gone from our solicitor requesting a meeting with the Bishops and their legal team to discuss our concerns. Much goes unchallenged also in the media, particularly when one reads the recurring adjectives put with words like priest and report. Should we offer an alternative protocol to Church authorities for dealing with complaints against priests? The opinion expressed by Marie Keenan in her address to the AGM that the National Board for Safeguarding Children is unnecessary was aired. Let the Law of the Land deal with all criminal activity and not be placing Church Authorities in the position of Policemen.
Concern was expressed for people withdrawn from active ministry and made to feel like a non-person without any sense of belonging.
2. Crisis in ministry was then addressed. In the absence of a priest to celebrate Mass, the inability of the local community to have a Eucharistic Service was highlighted. Who is preparing for this as we are a dying breed and are we afraid to look at the future?
The need to highlight for people non church ceremonies of birth, marriage, death was clearly stated for we are dealing with much non-practice and apathy. The importance of the Sacraments of initiation was stated and the question asked “why fetch water with a leaking bucket?” The sense of belonging is for those who are active in the community. A question to ask every household:- “Do you wish to be associated with the Liturgical, praying and worshipping life of your parish?” With those that answer you have a basis for a living Community.
3. TheEucharistic Congress was seen as something that the Association had no strong opinion on, and that maybe nothing should be said.
4. TheAssociation sent out feelers as to a National Assembly. A lot of lay groups want to be involved and May 1st next year is the suggested date. Local Assemblies are also needed and conversation on all topics at local and national level is necessary.
5. The New Missal is irksome and lacks the fluency of what we are used to.
6. With regard to the Bishops Conference, difficulty was expressed in accessing them as a collective group. Should we make more efforts to work with Bishops or confront the Bishops and ask them what they feel about things?
Because of the apathy and lack of fire in Priests, is that affecting Bishops?
Are Bishops afraid of their own power?
The need to encourage lay people to meet and have their voices heard was emphasised as they might have a better chance of being listened to.
The motto for Bishops “aut cacare aut vacare” was muted!
The existence of a C.T.S Booklet on the Canonical Rights of the Clergy was noted.