Killaloe laity and clergy want significant change in Church
A report of wide-ranging discussions between clergy and lay people in the diocese of Killaloe about the state of the Church reveals substantial support for change in areas such as married clergy and the ordination of women.
New roles for lay people, women in ministry and appreciation of local priests, were also identified as priorities by a majority of those who participated in the discussion groups, while the promotion of vocations and priests from abroad coming to minister in Ireland were identified by a minority.
Seven hundred people, including clergy, took part in the Listening Process discussions that have given rise to the report. Their deliberations started in October last year and since then, they have had regular meetings in twelve clusters of parishes across the diocese, to identify what they consider priorities.
Eleven of the twelve clusters reported that they consider new roles for lay people, appreciation of local priests, married clergy and women in ministry to be priorities in renewing the Church.
Nine of the twelve saw the ordination of women as important while four listed care of the clergy. Only three identified vocation promotion or married deacons as key issues and two cited having foreign priests minister here.
The report said that, “despite feelings of disconnect with the institutional Church,” many people feel, “a strong affinity and connection with their local parish community. However it is also true that hurt or anger with stances or decisions taken by the institutional Church impacts negatively at local parish level and leads to people walking away,” the report notes.
Diocesan spokesperson Fr Brendan Quinlivan, said the listening process was, “an opportunity for all our people to engage in the conversation about the Church. Change and growth can only happen if we engage in open and honest conversation with one another.”
While many of the issues raised at the Listening Process forum are ones which are for the institutional Church rather than ones that can be addressed locally, a member of the steering committee for the discussions said it was nonetheless with raising them as this could influence overall Church policy.
“We may not be able to effect all that people are asking, these are issues on which the wider Church must decide,” Ms Maureen Kelly admitted. But, she said, there is, “much we can do locally to ensure that the issues are addressed,” because, “Church begins on the ground and that has a wider impact.”
“The issue of ministry of women is frequently raised as one we cannot change but there is much we can do locally to enhance the participation of women and their input to decision-making at local level.”