06Jul Letter to the Irish Times by Brian Grogan S.J. (unpublished)


Now that the countdown to the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) has begun, a related but worrying countdown must also be taken into account. The decline in priestly vocations means ever fewer celebrations of the Eucharist, and the current drive to cluster parishes and to rationalise Mass schedules will not serve us for long.  Some senior citizens already find travel to a more distant parish beyond their strength. And if the Congress emerges as a positive event, more Irish Catholics will want to participate in the Eucharist, and must be enabled to do so. So what is the Spirit now trying to say to the Irish Church?

Next June will see an international gathering of bishops for the Congress, including, perhaps, the pope himself. As hosts, the Irish bishops are in a position to initiate a creative dialogue with their fellow-bishops on appropriate responses to the widespread pastoral need of providing celebrants. To Jesus’ request, ‘Do this in memory of me’ we can hardly convincingly respond, ‘Sorry, Lord; no celebrants!’

Open debate in the Church on this issue is long overdue. Someone, somewhere, must offer episcopal leadership in addressing it. And if not us, who? The best outcome to next year’s Congress would be to have progressed this matter: to do so would help the universal Church. Carpe diem!

While the issue of women’s ordination requires further study and discernment, immediate and less conflictual pastoral options merit attention. For example: some priests now married would still be glad to serve the People of God by celebrating Eucharist. Further, priesthood for married men can be considered, as witness the married Anglicans who have joined the ordinariate established by pope Benedict and celebrate with Catholic communities. Again, communion services, led by the non-ordained, could be fostered rather than viewed as an invasion of the clerical domain.  The over-riding concern in preparing the Congress must be the future liturgical service of the People of God, leading to a revitalisation of the Irish Catholic Church, rather than the running of a once-off event, however successful, next June.

–          Yours, etc

Brian Grogan SJ

35 Lr Leeson St

Dublin 2

3 Responses

  1. Eamonn Keane

    Fr Brian Grogan SJ states that “the issue of women’s ordination requires further study and discernment.” The question has received ample discernment over the last 2000 years in the Church Universal (East and West), where the unanimous conclusion has been that the ordination of women is impossible. Hence the definitive (infallible)teaching of the Magisterium that the ministerial priesthood can be conferred only on men. It would be a holy and noble thing for the Irish Jesuits to commit to explaining to those to whom they minister the reasons for this teaching and how it coheres perfectly with the entire corpus of Catholic doctrine. Such an undertaking would be a most eloquent expression of fidelity to their founding charism. Come to think of it, it would be an honourable commitment for the ACP to embrace as well. I think it would give the association greater street credibility as it were with Catholics at large.

    Eamonn Keane

  2. Christine Gilsen

    The second Vatican Council document, Lumen Gentium, proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life”.

    Is it possible that some of the hierarchy don’t believe this because the number of celebrations of the Eucharist in Ireland is rapidly dropping?

    In The Furrow (May 2011), Anne Thurston states, “That the requirement for celibate men takes precedence over the needs of the community to celebrate the Eucharist is also a scandal that needs to be addressed separately”.

    If we value the gift of the Eucharist, this matter deserves our attention and discernment.

  3. Peter

    Perhaps Eamonn Keane might explain how the current teaching on the ordination of women meets the strict criteria for infallibility?

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