12Apr Contemporary Catholic perspectives revealed in ACP survey

This research was commissioned by The Association of Catholic Priests to gain an understanding of Catholic’s views on contemporary Catholicism.

You can download the report here

15 Responses

  1. Siobhan

    I was unaware of the ACP until I read about this survey in the Irish Times. Having now gone through your web site in great detail, please accept my close-to-weeping gratitude for your existence as proof that there are still some remnants of the Catholic Church left that understand the church is about its people and not about power. I was lucky enough to be educated during that golden post-Vatican II era when wonderful men and women became nuns and priests as a result of the Vatican II reforms. Sadly I have seen most of my former teachers leave their vocations or retire early in opposition to the abuse cover-up and the steady repeal of reforms that have been happening in the past 20 years or so. Thank you for this initiative.

  2. Seminarian III (aka Patrick Anthony)

    If the Irish Association of Maths Teachers publish a survey which shows a majority of Irish people believe that 2+2=5, do we conclude that
    a} our mathematical principles are dreadfully outmoded and need to be adapted to the 21st Century reality that 2+2 can equal whatever we want it to?
    or
    b)our teachers have been teaching maths very badly for the last few decades?

  3. Martin

    I worked my way through that survey just now. There are two ways to look at it: as an indicator of the shocking failure of Catholics (particularly bishops, priests, schools, and parents) to pass on the faith over the last 50 years, or an enormous challenge for evangelism. I would expect very similar responses from some of my own family members as were given in the survey. That is, from Catholics who do not practise and who have no interest in the faith.

  4. Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.

    In response to Martin, what is obvious is that many of the responses came from people who do practise and love their faith. That may be a little uncomfortable to Martin, as may be the thought that he may have something to learn from people who do not ‘practise’ their faith as he see it.

  5. Julie Moran

    This survey raises so many questions and I for one see no clear answers to many of them.
    But I do welcome the idea that as catholics we should at least begin now to talk about those questions and maybe with the help of the Holy Spirit and respect for one another we can come to know some of the answers.
    It took 30 years for both sides in Northern Ireland to accept that the only way forward was to sit down and talk. Demanding one side leaves if they’re not happy didn’t work there and it won’t work in the church either.
    We owe it to the faith we share in Jesus Christ, to work together.
    I pray today’s survey can push us in that direction.

  6. Colette

    Those surveyed in the survey who wish to instigate the more radical reforms to the Catholic faith, are in fact, the ones who are not practicing it, or rarely, and have no fervour, or at least don’t really feel that they can practice it, or feel it’s easier not to because of ‘choices’ they make in life that should be considered ‘ok’ these days – or else are very young and are on their own journey through life that ultimately we trust and pray will bring them to Christ and to the Eucharist, the way it should be.

  7. Brendan Cunning

    Just want to say I am happy with the results of the survey. I am a married (28 years) priest who spent 17 years in the ministry. I would happily serve as a married priest. I told Fr. Tony Flannery that the Association should not just be for priests. It should be a movment of baptised catholics cleric and non cleric. You need the support of the the whole catholic community. The wall between clergy and lay should not exist. Break it. Tony argued that all kinds of right wingers would come in a take over the movement. We have an association of Catholics, clergy and lay, in the US…”Call to Action”. There is no way it can be taken over by right wingers..it is a Vatican Two progressive movement. Rome will isolate individual clerics in your Assoication. But it will be much more difficult for them if we have Catholics both clergy and lay from all the professions and trades, and in leadership roles all acting together.. please open up the Association of Priests. Thanks and blessings on Tony. Peace be to you. Brendan.

  8. Jim Stack

    In response to Fr Egan (Comment 4): does he, or any of his fellow priests in ACP, feel at all uncomfortable that their attitude to traditional Catholics tends to be somewhat dismissive? According to Comment 7, it appears Fr Flannery does not want us even to contaminate his website!

    Like Martin (Comment 3) I have family members who no longer practise, and I am starting to find family gatherings a bit of an ordeal, wondering where the next sarcastic comment is coming from. In my naivete, until this week, I felt that, when I was at Mass, I was among friends, the community of believers who stayed loyal to the faith when it was no longer fashionable to do so. Now I know better. I now understand that 800 priests are signed up to this organisation which, whatever way you add it up, thinks it has as much right as the pope to define Catholic doctrine. And (according to this survey) a significant number, even of those who attend weekly Mass with me, agree with the agenda of these dissident priests. Of note, too, not one of these 800 priests has disassociated himself from the sarcastic remarks at the end of Fr Hegarty’s Irish Times article. Fr Flannery does not want us on his website, and Fr Hegarty is utterly dismissive of the pope’s reliance on us to renew the Church.

    I was reminded earlier in the week, on this site, not to assume that I spoke for the majority of Catholics, so (taking this on board)I acknowledge as entirely my own, this attempt to puncture your complacency. I believe the same things my parents before me believed, the same things most of you 800 priests presumably also believed when you presented yourselves for ordination and made your vows of obedience. Whether I find a particular teaching hard or easy, I try to abide by it. That is my understanding of Catholicism: alone among the Christian churches, we regard the pope as the successor of Peter, and we follow his teaching.

    I have an obligation to contribute, financially and otherwise, to the Church, and in return I think that I am entitled to expect my priests to administer the sacraments and to explain the teaching of the Church. Not their own opinions – the teaching of the Church. I am a Catholic – I want to know what Catholic doctrine is. Clerics expressing a variety of moral opinions is a Protestant, not a Catholic thing.

    For the first time ever, I will pay my Easter dues begrudgingly this week. I feel betrayed by these 800 priests who took it upon themselves to move the goalposts and I resent paying money to support them.

    In conclusion, thanks to Seminarian III for giving me a good laugh in what has been a depressing week.

  9. Mary Wood

    Judging by the solid majority positions discovered in the survey, it would appear that Frs Flannery and Maloney have been rather more persuasive as thinkers and teachers than the reputed “pillars of the church.”
    .
    Maybe the Holy Spirit is backing them and the spectrum of Irish Catholics rather than the “Higher-[an]-Archy. ? As do I.

  10. chris m

    My brother goes to Mass at Christmas and Easter. He receives Holy Communion twice a year. Maybe more if he goes to a wedding or a funeral. He never goes to confession. When he sees me, he sometimes makes offensive remarks about Catholic beliefs, usually about the Eucharist or maybe some miracle of the Lord or about the Pope. He likes to mock. I find it pretty offensive and it is really nasty. I guess he sees himself as a catholic but I’m not sure he is a good one. So I am wondering are these the sorts of people we look at to see what it is to be a good catholic or even if what he believes is what Jesus teaches? I doubt it.

  11. Bernadette

    The Church teaches what it believes to be essential truths. Truths can’t be altered because people find them difficult to live with or they don’t fit in with what society believes. The Church is not a democracy and pretending it is deeply repressive when it clearly hasn’t been is immature. I was educated post-Vatican II. If priests had been educating people properly then the results of this survey might have been different. I had to seek out for myself what the Church teaches and why. Once I started reading it all made perfect sense.

  12. Eileen

    Jim, I am really sorry that you feel so let down and betrayed. I have no problem at all with traditional Catholics, many of whom are struggling and questioning all that is going on these days. I would consider myself to be fairly traditional.Being right-wing and unable to listen to others is a different thing. (From your contribution, you are obviously not that). St Paul tells us to worship God is a way that is worthy of ‘thinking people.’ Yes, the Pope is the successor of St. Peter. However, when he and the cardinals in the Vatican are living in palaces, controlling banks and all the trappings of a sovereign State, we have to challenge that, as Jesus stressed that his kingdom was not of this world. And Jesus never tried to shut people up but listened respectfully to what they had to say – maybe throwing in a question to help them to arrive at the truth themselves. I hope you will continue to contribute to the discussion. Growth, healing and a better Church will surely emerge from the crosses that ALL of us are carrying.

  13. Jim Stack

    Reply to Eileen (Comment 12): Thank you for this kind response.I still await a reply, however, from even one out of 800 priests to say that they disagree with Fr Hegarty’s description of traditional Catholics as “Rick Santorum lookalikes”. They will take our money and our efforts but still treat us with contempt because we continue to believe what they themselves once believed too. They see nothing dishonourable in this behaviour, and see nothing odd about talking about inclusiveness while being so dismissive of some of those who have supported them as priests, sometimes at considerable personal cost.

    I know that some comments from my side of the fence have been less than kind, too, which may explain some of the ACP priests’ hostility to us, and it would also be wrong not to acknowledge these priests’ commitment. My main point, however, is that they want to take to themselves, and to the faithful in general, authority which properly belongs to the pope. They invoke the spirit of Vatican II, but ignore its actual teachings, including the teaching that it is the pope who has this authority, and the teaching that artificial contraception is sinful.

    Your remarks about lavish lifestyles at the Vatican are intersting. The first thing I would say in reply is that this is not what the ACP are attacking. I would add, too, that (while I know very little about senior people at the Vatican in general) I have often been struck by the commitment and dedication of the popes who have served in my lifetime. Their living quarters may be plush but they seem to me to push themselves very hard on our behalf. Also, my understanding is that the desire to be a sovereign state stems from the need to have policies independently of all other states. The recognition of this independence by other countries is what makes the Vatican so effective diplomatically – they are not seen as being under the influence of any world power, for example.

    Finally, while I am no Scripture expert, and no theologian, I have read the gospels many times and have a somewhat different picture than yours (or the ACP’s). In St John’s gospel, in particular, what is clear to me above all is the absolute commitment of Jesus to the Father. He wants to do the Father’s will, and only the Father’s will, and he never, as far as I can see, told any of the disciples otherwise. When Peter tried to persuade Him that the Passion could be avoided, His reply was “Get behind me, Satan”. He forgave sinners, and in that sense was not legalistic, but He commanded them to “sin no more”. I do not know one example of Jesus changing any teaching after discussion with His disciples.

    This has been a long reply, Eileen, but you made a number of points and I wanted to respond to all of them.

    God bless.

  14. Eileen

    Thanks Jim, for taking the time to address the points I made. There is much food for reflection.
    I waited in vain to see if anyone else would come in on the discussion. OK, it’s Sunday and priests are busy but it was on Thursday (Comment Eight) that Jim expressed his sense of rejection by the 800. (If I understand correctly).
    In general, I realise now that there is an absence of dialogue between commentators on these articles. One of the basic tenets of Christian leadership is: In the end, it does not matter who is right or wrong; what matters is the relationship. While we obviously apply that to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it might be enlightening to apply it also to ourselves i.e. us commentators, many of whom are leaders in some sphere or other. A number of respondents have aired genuine concerns as a cry from the heart but have had no ‘heart’ response, only some kind of point-scoring eloquence. The present crisis in the Church is not a competition.

  15. Mary O Vallely (Armagh)

    I am touched by Jim’s and Eileen’s sincerity and the use of the word “kind” that you used, Jim, to describe Eileen’s response shows how much we all need to be kind to one another. This is such a new type of forum for discussion and many people feel uncomfortable with it. Let’s face it, we are not used to any type of forum so it will take time, patience, much courage and continued prayer. We also need to lace our words with kindness and I am so heartened to read Mattie Long’s article written in such loving charity and humility.It is easy for me to spout since I have nothing to lose but I do understand the reluctance of many priests to commit their thoughts to public viewing. I also cannot see how we can’t accept the fact that many people feel differently about the objectives of the ACP. Jim and I would not be in agreement but I respect his obvious deep faith and his searching. It is only a few weeks to the 7th May event and I am sure face to face contact and networking will help build up confidence. All will be well eventually. Le cuidiú Dé. Mary V


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