24Jul Joe O’Leary criticises ACP leadership

I think the Association of Irish Priests have let down Irish Priests by their uncritical embrace of the Cloyne Report and Enda Kenny’s speech.

Joe O’Leary

14 Responses

  1. Andrew Harper

    I am not a member but might I suggest that the bishops have also let down priests by their silence on Enda Kenny’s speech, I know some have spoken but only in vague terms. I find it amazing that with social workers still raising concerns about mandatory reporting and many teachers also worried at the implications of it, that the bishops have said nothing. I know that many do not care but around a third of the allegations in Cloyne were false for whatever reason – priests are now walking targets for anyone with a grievance against the church. Of course we have to protect children and that must be the prime concern but surely there is also a duty to ensure natural justice. Does anyone remember the case of Nora Wall, she was hung drawn and quartered before her trial even started. I just find it so sad that priests are now being demonised and not one bishop has stepped up to tackle this issue.

  2. Richard Shannon

    I agree that the Association has been let down in relation to An Taoiseach’s speech. This speech was nothing more than political opportunism and grandstanding. The record of successive governments on the welfare of children has been absolutely appalling.

  3. Andrew Harper

    Following the last post I just googled the Nora Wall case and found this observation which could today be applied to the attitude of many bishops:

    “The young woman their hearts were going out to, was the false accuser, not their own innocent nun. Our absolutist system had seduced them into identifying with the accuser and betraying their own sister.”

    I am not suggesting that all are false accusers and clearly some horrendous crimes have been committed by clergy but it almost feels like we are now into a witch-hunt and there is a very real danger than many people look at a priest and the very first thought is about child abuse.

  4. Rory Connor

    Since I was mainly responsible for the Wikipedia article on Nora Wall, I am supplying a fuller extract. I compare the attitude of Kevin Myers to her original conviction in June 1999 with that of the leaders of the Sisters of Mercy. The latter threw her to the wolves – and this was neither the first nor the last time they behaved in that fashion towards their own falsely accused colleagues. In 1999 the Bishops were still speaking out strongly against false allegations (remember the reaction of the Dublin Archdiocese to John Cooney’s allegations against Archbishop McQuaid) However over the past few years they have adopted the same cowardly attitude as the nuns.


    On Saturday 31 July, the Irish Times published an article by writer and journalist Kevin Myers. He was one of the very few to speak out in favour of Wall and McCabe at the time. He originally wrote a column on Monday 26 July to be published on Wednesday but it was withdrawn because what he sought to achieve was already happening – the release of the two accused. He described the trial as a “witch-hunt”:

    “We should always beware the deeds of good men and women when there is a public war against vice of any kind. The “witches” of Salem were not persecuted by bad men or women; people then genuinely lived in fear of witchcraft, just as they did of communism in the 1950s. In the witch-hunt to remove it from public life in the US, innocent people’s lives were ruined, yet through often honourable motives (apart from those of Joe McCarthy).[16]


    After their conviction, the Sisters of Mercy issued a statement, which read:

    “We are all devastated by the revolting crimes which resulted in these verdicts. Our hearts go out to this young woman who, as a child, was placed in our care. Her courage in coming forward was heroic. We beg anyone who was abused whilst in our care to go to the Gardaí.

    Even after the collapse of the case against the two accused, the Sisters of Mercy made no effort to apologise to Wall or to withdraw their statement of support for Walsh. One commentator remarked: “The young woman their hearts were going out to, was the false accuser, not their own innocent nun. Our absolutist system had seduced them into identifying with the accuser and betraying their own sister.”

  5. Association of Catholic Priests

    Monday’s news: Enda Kenny got messages of support from “hundreds of priests” around the country.

  6. Gerard Flynn

    And, by all accounts, from outside of the country also.

  7. Gerry O'Hanlon

    I am grateful to the leadership of the ACP for pointing out the systemic issues underlying the Cloyne Report and the Taoiseach’s speech. A more balanced model of church, with input and authority from the local and regional, lay and cleric, men and women, is highly desirable, both to create a safer, less clericalist ecclesial culture and to implement faithfully the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

  8. Pat Rogers

    While I generally welcome and admire Joseph O’Leary’s messages, either via letters to the Irish Times or through this ACP website, I feel he is somewhat too cryptic in his critique of the ACP leadership for their “uncritical embrace” of Enda Kenny’s speech.
    I hope that in a follow-up post he might spell out his own main reservations on that speech. My own principal quibble with it is of the out-of-context use of a phrase of Card. Ratzinger to the effect that the church’s procedures in order to validate an aspect of doctrine are not those of the ballot-box or opinion-poll. I entirely agree, however, that a major factor in causing widespread disaffection from the actions of the papal curia is the lack of consultation and dialogue with the faithful and the local clergy.

    If Joe O’leary is unhappy with Brendan Hoban’s strong statement of approval for Kenny’s speech, would he please tell us why? For my own part, I applaud Hoban’s statement for pin-pointing the main root of the church’s current woes: the blocking of the emergence of power-sharing, local consultation and a Vatican-II style church, where discipleship and service prevail over pomp and unquestionable diktat. Unfortunately, Pope Benedict’s frequent appeal to a “hermeneutic of continuity” sounds rather like a recipe for “Roma locuta est: so no change is possible!”

  9. Joseph O'Leary

    Tony, did Kenny get support from hundreds of priests around the country or around the world? Would he care to give the exact number of Irish priest supporters? — I would be very surprised if there were hundreds of them. Maybe he imagines the Association of Catholic Priests as a body supports him, which would give him 500.

    Pat, you can read my views at the following places:




    I agree with Brendan and Tony in their critique of the Vatican in general, but not with their, or the Taoiseach’s, take on the Cloyne report.

  10. Joseph O'Leary

    See also: http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=14412

  11. Eddie Finnegan

    Of course, J.P Mackey’s latest in his Rite & Reason series (Irish Times, 26 July) places the Vatican and the whole ‘priestly caste’ in a very different context!

  12. Francis Moore

    The younger members of the clergy do not belong to, or support the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP). They regard this group of aging trendies, as the “usual suspects”, who get too much air time on RTE. They are not representative and are ridiculed as the Assocation of Cranks and Pessimists (ACP).

  13. Joe O'Leary

    Association of Cranks and Pessimists — cute! I hope the younger members of the clergy find a forum to make their voice heard, instead of just nagging about their elders. I am sure RTE would be delighted to give them air time, since the usual suspects are indeed not terribly newsworthy, nor do bald pates and grey hairs appeal to tv audiences. The trouble is that no one but the usual suspects seems to speak up at all. The rest either have nothing to say or are keeping their heads under the parapet.

  14. Eddie Finnegan

    I am certainly no fan of Mark Dooley of NUIM (both he and the “Irish” Daily Mail deserve one another) but he seems now to have latched onto Joe’s point of criticism (above):
    “Fr O’Leary is no conservative. He is a founding member of the Association, and one of the most liberal clerics I have met. It seems to me that people (within the ACP) like Fr O’Leary recognise that this is no time for cynical opportunism.”

    Sorry, I can’t give the link to his column but it seems to me that, in the interests of the Association, a considered response, preferably from Fr Flannery, is called for.

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