English priests issue “A call to action”
We are a group of priests who have been meeting together because we are deeply concerned for the future of our Church, and we wish to support each other in the task of creating forums for all the baptized to contribute to the full teaching life of the Church.
The recent “universal call to holiness in Christ” for all the baptized made by our bishops at their November 2011 conference and their desire to promote a “culture of vocation” within the corporate identity of the Catholic Church, marked by a confident Catholic faith, has encouraged us to respond as follows.
The promotion of this culture of vocation must, we feel, be seen as a call to all the people of God to take responsibility for our Church. It seems to us, therefore, that our bishops and priests should actively encourage this. Even though many lay people follow courses in theology and pastoral care, there seems little opportunity for them to use the skills they have acquired for the service of our Church.
The bishops speak of “fostering and encouraging a culture of dialogue and solidarity” but, in reality, there is little opportunity or forum for this and there seems a reluctance to listen to thepeople whose lived reality is so often at odds with the teaching of the institutional Church. This is especially true in reading the signs of the times; i.e. matters of developing a theology of sexuality rooted in the actual experiences of thefaithful and developing an understanding of the relationships between evolution and religion. The sensus fidelium seems forgotten.
“Creating a national vocations framework, offering discernment and opportunities for all” again seems to ignore the view of so many of the laity that it is time for us to have serious discussion about married men and the institutional priesthood. While we support our bishops in their desire for the renewal of our Church, we recognize that certain basic teachings of the Second Vatican Council seem to be bypassed by the Roman Curia so that real collegiality is not fully exercised and much of the responsibility of thelocal bishops has been abrogated by the Curia. The recent imposition of the new translation of the Mass texts is an obvious example of this. We feel that it is imperative that those of us in the ministerial priesthood who are concerned for these and many other matters should gather together so that we both support our bishops and be a voice to which they can listen. We invite priests who feel as we do to contact us on email@example.com with a view to calling us together to consider how best we might move forward.
(Fr) Ian Byrnes, (Fr) John Lally, (Fr) Patrick McLaughlin, (Fr) Frank Nally, (Fr) Derek Reeve, (Fr) Joe Ryan, (Fr) Paul Sanders