11Feb Is there room for two clergy organisations in Ireland?

“The Confraternity Chairman, Fr Gerard Deighan, did not see (the Irish Confraternity of Catholic Clergy) as an alternative to the Association of Catholic Priests and, though not aware of an overlap in membership between the two, it was ‘not impossible’, he said.”

‘Not impossible’? Was he laughing up his sleeve, or has he in fact been reading between the lines of those most consistent of reports from the most admirable of ACP diocesan groups, the Men of Clogher as reported bi-monthly from Clones by the Man from Killanny? If ACP Leadership has not been taking to heart Clogher’s regular essays in ACP loyalty, interlaced with the mildest of firmly constructive criticism, then perhaps the ICCC’s interim committee members have been lurking and taking note every couple of months:

“It was felt by the gathering that the Pope Francis effect had eased the pressure on the ACP . . . (but) where is the energy for the ACP at national level now? The flagship for the ACP was always Vatican II, and perhaps the spirit of Vatican II was never really developed by the ACP. [Perhaps that's a very politely understated "perhaps" -E.F.] Maybe that could now become our flagship, to catechize, to educate on what we really do know about that great council . . .”

That’s a point that has been made more than once by Joe O’Leary, with the nuance, I think, that the famous ‘spirit of the Council’ is not necessarily captured just by poring over the Documents’ text.

Clogher, like many of us, seems to have found an excess of ‘animus‘ and a deficit of ‘anima‘ on this three-and-a-half-year old website. As one who may occasionally indulge in more of the former than of the latter, what can I do but, Schonborn-like, beat my layman’s breast in a maxima culpa? [Oh, pardon my parapraxis, my Freudian slip. I clean forgot that 'lay', 'lay(wo)man' and 'laity' have all been successfully decommissioned. Reckon it wasn't Alec Reid oversaw that furtive decommissioning act!]

Clogher’s expressed need was “about getting nourishment for the soul. A lot of articles appearing in the Furrow and indeed the ACP website, they are not nourishing our souls, there is a tiredness about their content, and are simply not addressing ‘my struggles, my agenda, my ministry, our struggles, our agenda, our ministry . . . . Give us something for our souls.”

It’s a cri de coeur, or d’ame, that I see Mary Vallely, another great Armagh fan of the Clogher 7 (or 10, or 25, or 31), agrees with. The new support group of priests (the ICCC) she alludes to may seek to supply something of that nourishment for the soul, after their own pre-Franciscan, Benedictophile, Johannipauline retro-fashion. Some, at least, of the ACP’s 1,000 may from time to time feel themselves longing for those old ‘certainties’ – the pre-VAT II fleshpots of Maynooth. Though, come to think of it, I don’t recall any fleshpots – just porridge pots, sublimated as BG, ‘Broma Gálaktos‘, a less than ambrosial glutinous glue.

But I don’t think the Clogher Group, facing the fragility of priesthood, are hankering after those old pots. In reaching for the Eamonn Conway edited three dozen essays, ‘Priesthood Today‘, they’re branching out in Hope. Maybe Fr Conway’s most hope-filled message for priests was his tweet last Saturday week: “Great to see the Vigil Mass can still cause a traffic jam in Tuam!”

So what future for the ICCC ? Well, they’ve certainly co-opted the big Patrons: Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland; St Patrick, St Oliver and St John Vianney. My questions: were any of the four consulted? Did they have a right of refusal? Will the Curé find time away from the Confessional to attend meetings? Still, the ACP missed a trick there, it seems. Then they’ve copperfastened every statute or sub-statute with a Canon or two – not necessarily of the purple variety. [Anyone else do a double-take at the sight of Very Rev Patrick McCarthy on their Executive Committee? Relax - not our Pádraig!]

Where they tempt fate, however, is in their alliterative motto/slogan: ‘Fidelity – Fraternity – Formation’. The last Irish confraternity to plump for the 3Fs was the Tenant Right League in 1850 with its ‘Fair Rent – Fixity of Tenure – Free Sale’. Within a year its more Catholic Catholics had split it with the ‘Catholic Defence League’, dropping two of the Fs, which by 1852 had morphed into the ‘Independent Irish Party’ or ‘The Pope’s Brass Band’ – i.e. Pio Nono of course. Perhaps the new ‘The 2Former Popes’ Brass Band’ should follow Brendan Behan’s advice: when you meet at the Knock House Hotel on 12-13th March, make sure THE SPLIT’s the first item on your Agenda.

On the other hand, that’s the first Anniversary of the Conclave’s start and finish, 2013. Is the ICCC about to switch its loyalty to Pope Francis? Is this the endgame? Will the ACP wipeout follow by the Ides of March?

14 Responses

  1. Paddy Ferry

    I wonder if these lads in the new ICCC have the same ideas on the nature of priesthood as do the priests of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy of the British Province of Pope, St. Gregory the Great. We haven’t heard much about the latter group for some time now. They certainly expressed a wonderful sense of their own self-importance when they announced their mission statement/constitution.

  2. Eddie Finnegan

    Paddy, I would guess there’s more than a passing resemblance, and not just in their choice of the 3Fs motto. They’ve left it rather late in the day to go catching up with their stable mates here (+Mark Davies, Msgr Andrew Wadsworth etc) and their forerunners in the States and Australia, but as you say they won’t have much catching up to do with the English version. Fr Gerard Deighan is of course the personification of the Latin Mass-Extraordinary Form in Dublin. (Now how did my initials get mixed up with the EF Mass?).
    But they’re not all bad and I’m sure their mothers love them. I’d be in favour of following my old Rabbi Gamaliel’s advice: haul them in for questioning, let them cool their ardour in the cells overnight, give them a good scourging and let them go. I’ll leave it to yourself, Paddy, to decide what to do with Bishop Boyce of Raphoe. He seems to be their bell-wether bishop.

  3. Phil dunne

    What a horrible comment from Eddie Finnegan even if he is trying to be funny. I do not agree with the views of ICCP but they too are church. These remarks do nothing to forward dialogue.
    Phil Dunne

  4. Joe O'Leary

    We all certainly need spiritual nourishment, wherever it is to be found. Nothing wrong with the Bible, the great spiritual classics, Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary. The Furrow and the ACP website don’t do much for this, but they do provide a forum for open discussion, which is good for everyone’s health. Admittedly the discussion may end up going nowhere or going round in circles. I hope the new Confraternity will also enjoy this freedom and wlll attract those who don’t find the ACP to be their cup of tea.

  5. Mattie Long

    “There are many rooms in my Father’s house”.
    ’nuff said?

  6. Eddie Finnegan

    Phil Dunne@3
    Hi Phil, glad to see you (back) on this site. Delighted also to see you enjoyed my little comment, just as much as I enjoyed your earnestly BASIC presentation at the Regency back in May 2012. Takes all sorts, y’know.
    No, as you may have noticed, I don’t tend to wear the old spirituality on my sleeve, yet I hope and know that it’s been fed and watered from many an unlikely trough and wellspring over the past 70 years. From the Liber Usualis to many a more unusual book and blog; from a very traditional Latin Mass with full pontificals in my good friends’ Opus Dei parish church in Caracas to a much more ‘inculturated’ Mass at Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s old Spiritan Cathedral in Dakar, Senegal [a great West African missionary of the old school was Marcel, whom no doubt a Jorge Bergoglio, or an Angelo Roncalli if he'd lived, would have learnt to handle differently]; from my wife’s devout but not-over-the-top Pentecostalism to the life-long friends of my Maynooth class as we meet every June: half of them wouldn’t be seen dead on the ACP website, and a goodly number of us might well enjoy an odd Latin Mass with Fr Deighan while drawing the line at all the canonical guff in their statutes. As we huddled for a Mass on a lovely afternoon last June on the footings of the ruined Lavabo of an Mhainistir Mhór at Mellifont, each putting in his ha’pence worth for the Prayers of the Faithful, one of our less than venerable canons looked around at the French Romanesque relics from the time of Malachy and the Synod of Kells and asked nobody in particular, “Now who the hell needs structures and hierarchies on a day like this?” Maybe he was just talking about the Cistercians’ architecture. I don’t think so.
    .
    But, Phil, don’t you think there are enough people trying to be po-facedly boring on this as on every other Catholic website, and indeed in all the ‘reform groups’ and in the ‘reform of the reform’ groups, without attempting to reform and reinvent me too? As for my old friend Gamaliel, I called him in to help because folks on this site and at many an ambo have a habit of quoting him whenever a new group sails into view. Gamaliel was an expert on Pascal’s Wager long before Pascal ever placed a bet: “Leave them be – you wouldn’t want to end up fighting God, now would you?”
    What most misusers of Gamaliel’s counsel forget is that he did not oppose the Sanhedrin’s giving the Apostles a good flogging and a warning not to preach in Jesus’ Name again. The real test is whether they licked their wounds and went on their way rejoicing at the honour of taking a beating for preaching the Name. I have no doubt that Fr Deighan and his merry or sober band will get over any gentle ribbing or even scourging they may sustain from this party.
    .
    And, Phil, if ever I do meet up with Fr Deighan or any good members of the ICCC, or even Bishop Boyce of Raphoe, I won’t be there to “forward dialogue” as you portentously put it; more to have a chat about Life, the one we know and the one we don’t. And I certainly won’t be going up to them with a poker-faced “I too am church”. Not my lingo, not my style: on that I’m sure Fr Deighan and I would be at one. I trust, too, that no ICCC man would ever think that I’m “trying to be funny”.
    It does seem to me that many of the ACP 1,000 (990 of whom never show visibility on this site) should apply for dual membership at least, if not exclusive belonging to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. I have little doubt that many of my ex-Maynooth mates are natural Confraternity men. Indeed were I ordained, I think I might be heading for Cnoc Mhuire myself just four weeks from today.
    But really, Phil, what I was “trying” to say, like Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga to the Curia crowd, was: “Would yous lot for Christ’s sake (literally but reverently) ever lighten up a bit?”

  7. John

    Is a parish priest who sets out to break down barriers between priest and people by removing the altar rails in the church (and does so in the face of opposition and bad feeling among his parishioners) a liberal or a conservative? (Answers on a postcard.)

  8. mjt

    John@7, Not among all of his parishioners, surely?

  9. Brendan Cafferty

    I wonder would new group have been set up were it not for the presence of ACP. I note there is a Bishop among the founding fathers! Don’t think the ACP could manage that, but thought it a major victory when a few bishops saw fit to meet with them …

  10. Phil Long

    Why all the mocking, anger and worry about the ICC ?

  11. Fred

    Why all the mocking, anger and worry about ICC? Surely because these ‘liberals’ are anything but liberal – and want to enforce their world view on everyone else!

  12. Eddie Finnegan

    Or, Phil Long@10 and Fred Anon@11, maybe it’s because what you both take for “mocking, anger and worry” is nothing of the kind but rather a light-hearted form of engagement, steering as far as possible from that po-faced mode of expression that so often characterises right-wing ultra-Catholic blogs and comment, while also recognising its mirror-image in the input of ultra-liberal right-on Catholics who occasionally appear on this website. For what it’s worth, I’d often find myself more at home in a congregation at a traditional Latin or latinate liturgy than at the do-it-yourself, baby-out-with-the-bathwater sort of effusions we’ve seen and heard too much of over the past 45 years or so. Now if a few dozen priests of the Irish Confraternity of Catholic Clerics would appear on this site with something worth saying over the next couple of weeks, it might actually serve to smoke out of their hidey-holes across the parishes of Ireland a few dozen of the thousand priests of the Association of Catholic Priests whose organ or mouthpiece this ACP forum has for the past 42 months aimed or claimed to be. [See the blue 'ABOUT US' box, top right.]

  13. Kevin

    How wonderful. Fr Deighan is a Holy Priest and an excellent preacher. I wish him and his newly formed group well.

  14. Liam

    Fair play to Fr Deighan. He truly is a wonderful man who preaches the truths of our faith and not some washed down version which we get in many parishes today.

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