Loving the enemy and praying for those who make life difficult are two marks of a Christian, or so Jesus teaches us today. We gather, aware of how difficult love can be, yet united by the saving mercy of God, on which we rely.
A number of regional meetings for priests are being arranged by the ACP.
The first of these will be held in the MacWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris, Co Mayo on Wednesday, 08 March at 2.00pm.
All priests of Killala, Elphin, Achonry and Tuam dioceses are invited to attend.
A meeting for the Southern Region has been scheduled for 15 March in The Parish Centre, Ovens from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
Sarah Mac Donald, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, gives an interesting account of the Irish bishops' visit to Pope Francis.
"But while Francis was telling the bishops he wanted to hear their problems and criticisms, back in Ireland, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), ... issued a statement expressing themselves as "disappointed, frustrated and angry" that, after six years of attempting to engage the bishops in a "respectful and mutual consideration of issues central to the health and well-being of the Irish Catholic church," the bishops had "pulled the plug on any future engagement with the ACP."
RTE carried coverage by Joe Little of comments made by Gerry O Hanlon SJ by video-link from Dublin to Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Updated with a Link to a statement from The Truth Justice and Healing Council, the body set up by the Catholic Church in Australia to coordinate the Catholic Church's response to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a commitment to justice and compassion for survivors.
And a Link to opening statement by Senior Counsel at the Royal Commission’s 50th public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
Seamus Ahearne reflects on the demolition and rebuilding of a church in Finglas parish.
"The new church for building in Finglas to replace the old has to be one where thinking happens; where the breadth of God is celebrated; where God is not protected from questions but where we take off our shoes and bow our heads in praise, gratitude and humility. We are forever learning. We are forever questioning. We are forever thinking. The God of our Church is praised if we are thinking. A passive church; a passive liturgy; a passive people does not respect God. I think therefore I am!"
Sean McDonagh and Tony Flannery spoke today with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE Radio 1.
Tony said that the Church in Ireland is “in a state of utter collapse”, with people “leaving the Church in droves”, and action is needed to change this. They said the Catholic Church also needs to apologise for how it has treated women and give them more power in the Church.
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.