13Mar Positive vibes from ACP meeting in Meath

Priests of the Diocese of Meath who are members of the ACP gathered on Wed. 6th Mar. in Navan. During the meeting there was lively and constructive discussion on various aspects of the ACP and members were invited to give feedback on their experience of the meeting that took place in Athlone on the 20th of Feb.
The general tone of our discussion was cordial and positive. Some spoke of the ACP as very beneficial in giving freedom to priests to speak and share openly and honestly their views on life, ministry and church matters. The support of being part of a such a group was felt to be necessary in times when priest numbers are decreasing and some are feeling isolated. The work of the leadership team was praised and even though more structured action could be taken on some of the aims of the association the consensus was that it could be difficult to move some of the issues forward within the hierarchical structures of the church. It was suggested that the ACP should make a statement and take a strong stand in favour of the current Pro-Life issue.
Overall most felt that the Athlone meeting was helpful, supportive and energizing in listening to the openness of all the speakers and contributors. However some felt that their concerns were not heard.

4 Responses

  1. Eddie Finnegan

    Sorry, not directly related to the Meath meeting above, but for lack of a more suitable spot:
    What is happening to the (more or less) ongoing Petition? It seems to be staggering sluggishly towards the 1,000 mark for several days now, or just petering out of steam. In view of its importance, shouldn’t priests, pastoral councils, diocesan or Religious Orders’ meetings etc be actively prodding it forward, encouraging groups and families to sign up? Something of this proactive type of effort has clearly had a good effect in Killaloe, Killala, Armagh as well as at the original Athlone meeting. The Petition should by now have passed the 1,000 signature mark from ACP priests alone.

  2. Jo O'Sullivan

    Why don’t people sign?
    Eddie Finnegan has asked why the petition to request the Bishops’ Conference to dialogue with the priests who have been silenced, seems to be pottering out of steam, stuck around the thousand mark, when ACP members alone should have ensured that it would fly past such a milestone.
    I too have been watching the agonisingly slow addition of signatures and wondering why so few have signed. And this is not the first time I’ve been truly disappointed by the seeming lack of care as to what happens within our church.
    I have no difficulty whatsoever understanding that my family and friends aren’t interested in signing such a petition. They no longer feel that what happens within Catholicism has anything to do with them. They have walked away and are finding their own moral compasses outside of any religious doctrine.
    I have no difficulty in understanding that people who believe in, and support the actions of the CDF (or the priests’ religious superiors, if we’re to believe Charles Browne), don’t sign. Of course they don’t support this petition and I respect them for their views. (Although I still question their acceptance of the METHOD by which priests are “invited to reflect” on their views.)
    What I find so soul-destroying is the seeming unwillingness of people who say they’re disgusted with the treatment of Tony Flannery et al (Sorry, Tony, you’ve become the “poster boy” for silenced priests!) and yet don’t add their names to the petition.
    Why don’t such people take the opportunity to DO something about the situation rather than whistle down the wind? I know adding a name to a petition isn’t exactly tearing down the Berlin Wall or anything, but it IS adding another wee flicker of light to help brighten the darkness.
    Can it be that they just don’t really care one way or the other? That frightens me and causes me to lose heart.
    But what causes me to lose heart and hope even more is the lack of signatures of priests.
    I know quite a number of priests by name, I have spoken with quite a few who admit to disagreeing (that’s putting it as mildly as I can!) with the treatment of priests who put their heads above the parapet. And yet, I don’t see their names on this petition.
    Why?
    What really saddens and upsets me is that these are men whom I would have brought my cares and concerns to in the past – my questioning of what God might want from me. These are men I have respected and whose views and opinions I have sought when troubled by questions of faith/doubt. They are men I believed to be living lives of integrity and principle – actually following the path I could only tread on now and again because I was often so caught up in secular matters.
    Why have you not added your names to a petition which simply asks that our bishops dialogue with your “brothers in Christ” so that a solution to the present intolerable situation can be found?
    Could it be that it’s just not of much importance to you? You’ve just never got around to adding your names as it’s too much effort to do so? That would tend to suggest that you’re quite happy with the current situation – or, if not exactly happy, not too bothered. That troubles me.
    Could it be that, secretly, you actually support those who have treated your brothers this way and that you only pretend to the likes of me that you find it intolerable? In which case, I find your hypocrisy very hard to stomach. That troubles me even more.
    Or is it that you’re not willing/afraid to put your own heads above the parapet? Is it that you’re afraid you’ll alienate the more right-wing members of your parishes/communities (I hate that terminology but I can’t describe people in any their way without going around the houses interminably!) if you’re seen to speak out against the hierarchy? Or could it be that you’ve an eye to the security of your own position and your own prospects of advancement?
    If such is the case, then I’m afraid I’ve lost all respect for you, guys. How could I ever again come to you for counsel if you can’t even stand up for your own beliefs?
    So I’m asking you now. Why don’t you sign this petition if you agree that the treatment that has been meted out to Tony Flannery, Gerry Moloney, Owen O’Sullivan, Seán Fagan, Brian D’Arcy et al is unjust and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged?
    I have found, in the past, when I’ve asked awkward questions on this site that they go unanswered. I don’t expect that any of you guys, who haven’t signed this petition, will speak now and say why you’re silent. But know that the consequences of so doing are that I continue to lose respect for you. Not that that will cause you sleepless nights, but how many more people are there who might be feeling the way I do?

  3. Eddie Finnegan

    Right, Jo – you’ve said it all there, Go raibh míle maith agat. Good to see over 30 of the non-ordained of Derry signing up today. Did someone have a wee word at Mass? While it may be true that Derry’s priests aren’t all that ACP-gospel greedy, a priest doesn’t have to be ACP-inclined to sign up for openness and justice on behalf of his brothers. Má’s fíor é gur ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine, caidé mar a mhaireann na sagairt?
    While apologising again for invading a Meath-ACP page with this plea, there’s a certain paucity of Meath priests among those first 1050 signatures. If Ronan Drury, in his 64th year of priesthood, is right up there in the vanguard, what more encouragement is needed?

  4. ger gleeson

    Thank you Jo. I wish I had the ability to express myself on this matter, in the seme manner as you. Come on Priests and people, PLEASE, PLEASE, SIGN UP.