This Sunday falls within the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when the Church prays that all Christians may grow closer together. As we join with Christians all over the world today to honour the death and resurrection of Jesus, we pray that the journey to full unity may soon be complete.
The leadership team of the ACP have issued a strong response to comments made about the state of the catholic church in Ireland by Archbishop Eamon Martin. They say that the Archbishop’s 'ad limina" comments 'bear little relationship to the realities of Irish Church life today'.
They have also commented on the letter received from the Irish bishops' conference. The letter is seen as an attempt to 'pull the plug’ on engagement with the ACP and 'to still the voice of an association that represents over a third of Irish priests (1000-plus) who are prepared to name important and difficult truths at a critical time for the Irish Church.'
Seamus Ahearne shares some thoughts on world and local events. Looking at such events Seamus challenges us; "how can we enlarge the discussion and reflection on life? How can we bring the poetry of God to our talk? How can the church move away from the nonsensical distractions and wake people up from the simplistic notions of Facebook and Twitter? I do fear that the world of politics is getting very small. We have also made God’s world small."
Seamus reminds us of the accusation that has been levelled against us;' “Your God is too small.” Small minds. Small people. Small faith has led us to this. I have a little theory.
A celibate bachelor clergy can become very linear in its outlook. The awkwardness of family life smashes all simple conclusions to problems. Acceptance of helplessness is the norm. I know that a celibate clergy gives us the chance to be very much family on a 24/7 schedule but something is still missing. The humour and humility of humanity can get diluted. We need chaos. The tidy and clear solutions to life are totally unreal.'
Tim Hazelwood, reflecting on his own experiences, questions the role and function of the 'Council of Priests' in dioceses.
Tim feels this is of particular relevance in light of the letter from the bishops to the ACP following a meeting last May.
Tim says that 'My experience is that the Council of Priests does not want to deal with the concerns of priests...... For diocesan priests the council is irrelevant in our lives. We get on with it as best we can as the work and weight of expectation grows, dreading the next edict to come from the council or the diocesan office to add to our busy work schedule.'
Michael O'Loughlin writing in Americamagazine.org quotes Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane as saying “At times at the synod I heard voices that sounded very clear and certain but only because they never grappled with the real question or never dealt with the real facts".
“So there’s a false clarity that comes because you don’t address reality, and there’s a false certainty that can come for the same reason.”
The pope, he said, is “bringing out into the very public setting of the papacy what any pastor does in his parish or diocese.”
Ultimately, individual believers have to discern where God is at work in their own lives—a process that doesn’t always lend itself to simple yes or no answers.
Seamus Ahearne reflects on Christmas.
"All of us can go there -To heaven and heaven is very close. It is when we let the fresh air of God into our minds, hearts and imaginations and don’t stop learning, listening and loitering. Dark minds, dull hearts, dreary imaginations make no room for open doors. An Open door – happens when we let a baby, (the helplessness and mystery of a baby), tell us, how God relies on us and needs us. (Christmas)."
Statement of the Association of Catholic Priests welcoming the proposed visit of Pope Francis
RTE is reporting that An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, may have raised the issue of Irish priests who have been 'silenced' at a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
The issues with the 'new' Missal are ongoing for us in the ACP. Difficulties continue to be experienced by so many people with the "new translation" of the Roman Missal. The ACP has decided to highlight the fact that there was, and is, a ready alternative available.
The ACP is making available the prayers for the Advent and Christmas seasons along with the Order of the Mass from the 1998 Missal in a printed format. The opening prayer, prayer over gifts, prefaces and prayer after communion are also available at the weekly 'Liturgy Preparation' page on our site.
The editorial in today's Irish Times, following the Annual General Meeting of the ACP, is interesting and is to be welcomed, even if it is, to be honest, somewhat of a surprise.