15Sep Soline Humbert – On consulting the faithful: one woman’s experience

On consulting the faithful: one woman’s experience.

The present appeal to the faithful to contribute at diocesan level to the Synod of Bishops has led me to reflect back  and to wonder: How do you ”walk together’ ‘when you have been thrown overboard?

I grew up a Catholic, trained as a catechist (like my mother), studied ecumenical theology, worked as a marriage and relationship counsellor for CMAC (now ACCORD).

My first experience of formal consultation in the church was as a member of the sub-committee Women In The Church in the Dublin diocese. It happened nearly three decades ago but I never forgot the experience and what it painfully  taught me.

The Dublin Council of Priests wanted to ‘listen to women’s pain’  and had set up our sub-committee of 4 priests and 4 women (lay & religious). Our sub-committee met regularly for over a year. Very quickly it emerged that there was pressure to censor ourselves; one priest in particular was adamant that some topics couldn’t and shouldn’t be mentioned. Women’s ordination in particular was anathema to him. Not that he was against it, but he was very fearful  of the archbishop’s reaction.

”What is the worst that can happen?” I asked.

”He’ll get angry and storm out of the room,” he replied.

”Well, if he chooses to respond like that, so be it.’’ I argued that we had been tasked with speaking about women’s pain in the church, and we would fail if we only spoke what we believed was acceptable to the archbishop. He might as well listen to himself.

The meetings grew more painful and difficult, as we prepared to hand over our report and make a verbal presentation to the assembled Council of Priests with  Archbishop Desmond Connell and the auxiliary bishops. I couldn’t believe how fearful that senior priest was. I had known him as quite an outspoken lecturer, but now he was full of fear, which he expressed through anger.

D-day, February 23rd 1994, finally arrived, when we gathered in a large room in Clonliffe. Our colleague on the sub-committee sat well apart from us, in a safe place amongst the other priests.

We, the four women, took turns in sharing our experiences in the church, especially the painful aspects and our recommendations, as was our brief. The issue of altar girls (still forbidden then) was one. When my turn came I spoke of my sense of calling to the presbyterate/ priesthood. It took me all the courage I could muster to share at a very deep level. I was aware of intense resistance to what I was saying and the level of discomfort in the room. But the archbishop didn’t go and slam the door…

When it was over, there was no real reaction or response. We were formally thanked and there was lunch. After months of intense preparation, that was it. There never was to be any further contact.

Several months later I received a phone call from a journalist with The Tablet, Margaret Hebblethwaite, in London. Margaret, who knew my advocacy for women’s ordination, expressed her puzzlement at seeing my name attached to a Report expressly ruling out Women’s ordination. I asked: ”What Report?” The Report of the Council of Priests on Women in the Church had been written up (by whom?) and press releases sent out to journalists far and wide and we, the members of the sub-committee had never seen it. Our names, however, were prominently attached to it .

Margaret Hebblethwaite couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it either. She read out the content of the Report over the phone to me. I felt physically  sick at what, for me, was a betrayal. No wonder Margaret Hebblethwaite had wondered what my name was doing with it. The Report, approved by the archbishop, stated: ”The fact that the priesthood was given only to men did not prevent women from taking their full part in the life of the Church.”

The next day part of the Report appeared in print in the Irish Catholic, with my name and that of the other women listed beside it.

When I had recovered enough I wrote to the priest chairing the Council of Priests, and sent copies to the auxiliary bishops to express  how I felt about this Report, both the content and the manner of its release.

The priest replied, none of the bishops did.

It was carefully explained to me that this was a Report of the Council of Priests, of which I was not a member. I was only on the sub-committee, therefore I had no grounds to complain. The fact that my name, and the other women’s names, appeared with the Report didn’t seem to matter. That was obviously for window-dressing: after all, we had been consulted! And why would we want the basic courtesy of a copy of the Report?

I wrote back that if that was the way they treated lay people, they wouldn’t get too many in future. I felt used and betrayed.

A month later, in May 1994, Pope John Paul II with Ordinatio Sacerdatolis, closed the door to women’s ordination and imposed silence.

Lesson learned. Regretfully, three decades later of personal, painful dealings with the institutional church with its violent attempts at silencing, freezing out behind a door closed ‘for ever’, orders to desist, blacklisting and loss of job, and threats of excommunication, do not inspire trust.

And now we are to speak freely… Really ?

Soline Humbert

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

14th September 2021

31 Responses

  1. Pádraig McCarthy

    Thanks, Soline, for speaking clearly and openly – exercising “parrhesia.”
    Last Sunday’s gospel reading referred to Jesus speaking “plainly” (Mark 8:32) – the Greek word is parrhesia, and carries the sense of speaking openly while aware that doing so may endanger the speaker!
    Pope Francis encouraged bishops at synods to speak with parrhesia. It seems extraordinary that they should need such encouragement!
    The word occurs 31 times in the New Testament (9 times in John; 5 times in Acts).
    A Foucault article may be of interest: https://foucault.info/parrhesia/foucault.DT1.wordParrhesia.en/

    We need to keep speaking clearly, with love, no matter how often it is rejected.

  2. Daithi O'Muirneachain

    Alas, I am totally at a loss for words, having read this account of how the ‘official’ Church has dealt with the members of that sub-committee and ignored them.
    So I will quote what the late Father Sean Fagan SM wrote to me, some time ago:-
    “Don’t confuse the ‘institutional’ Church, the organisation and its leaders, with the whole Church, which is God’s holy people, each with the indwelling Holy Spirit”.
    There is real hope, as we see all those priests who are devoted to God and giving great pastoral help to all and to those women who are prepared to speak. These are the unappreciated workers in God’s world and deserve our thanks and support.

  3. Roy Donovan

    I think Soline’s painful experiences of consultation by the Dublin Council of Priests is an example/a warning of the deep seated resistances and of being fobbed by a dying clerical patriarchal church that we can expect preceding and during the upcoming Synod. Can we find even three Irish Bishops who will train and ordain women to the diaconate and thus break the mould? PF is hardly going to sideline 3 bishops or 3 archbishops?!? What is needed in our times is not more faith but great courage!!

  4. Joe O'Leary

    This verifies Mrs McAleese’s perception of the limits of freedom of speech in the church. Open discussion is the medicine the church needs, and like a child in a tantrum it dashes it to the floor every time.

    The ‘nonnegotiables’ have blocked all discussion with women and with lgbt communities. Since subscription to a string of magisterial documents beginning with Humanae Vitae and including Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is the condition of any discussion in the church, of course there will be no discussion, and of course synods will remain fake.

    Movement can only come from the grass roots. The Vatican makes gestures of accommodating (or recuperating?) any signs of grass roots stirrings, but as the German Synodal Path experience showed, this is the kiss of death.

  5. Soline Humbert

    On Consulting The Faithful.
    Thank you ACP for giving a voice to Catholics like me who are officially persona non grata.
    Thank you Pádraig, Dáithí, Roy and Joe for your kind and interesting comments, and link to article.

    #1 Pádraig, for me parrhesia is closely connected with what John-Henry Newman describes as ‘Heart speaks to heart’. This may be because of my experience in the ministry of spiritual accompaniment/direction, but also in preaching.

    About bishops speaking boldly, with parrhesia, my experience is that it is mostly when they are retired that some do so. For example:
    http://rosemarieberger.com/2015/09/21/bishop-francis-quinn-the-spirit-is-calling-women-to-priesthood/
    Hopefully more will not wait till retirement. We must pray for them.

    #2 Dáithí, yes indeed the late Seán Fagan, who was a friend, was quite right about the church as God’s holy people. He certainly paid a heavy price for his parrhesia, including his letter to the Irish Times in favour of women’s ordination.
    And yes we owe a debt of gratitude to him and the many others who courageously supported/support those of us pushed to the margins of the institution.

    #3 Roy, about three Irish bishops…

    In some German dioceses years ago the bishops expected the opening of the diaconate to women was imminent as there was a Commission in Rome about it. Women were therefore admitted to the diaconate preparation programme alongside men. But there was no change in Rome, so on completion the women got a diploma they could frame at home while the men got ordained and ministered. This is what happened to a friend of mine, and I witnessed at first hand the sense of injustice and pain it caused.
    The Commission on the Diaconate for Women which has just started meeting is now the Fourth one.
    The German bishops have in their dioceses many women already trained formally for the diaconate:
    Will some of them go ahead and ordain them following on from the outcome of their Synodal Path?

    #4 Joe, of course you raise very real issues.
    Still, in spite of everything, I believe that ultimately the Spirit will not be quenched, and I have not lost my hope:
    Glory be to God, whose power in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine…( Ephesians 3:20).
    I should add I have seen miracles happen: I was once invited to address a local chapter of the Knights of Columbanus, an all male group. They, together with their priest-chaplain, listened very graciously as I told them of my vocational calling.

    Like Sarah in her old age the church can still give birth…now that is a laughing matter! We are all called to be midwives of the future.

  6. Soline Humbert

    On Consulting the Faithful.
    ”The charism of priesthood for women does exist. Is the Spirit of God in ministerial service being systematically extinguished through juridical decision-making?” Ludmila Javorova in Out Of The Depths by Myriam Therese Winter.
    https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/simply-spirit/francis-visits-slovakia-international-crowd-celebrates-czech-woman-priest

  7. Joe O'Leary

    Massimo Faggioli’s response to Mary McAleese is rather opaque. https://www.irishcatholic.com/the-gospel-not-the-law-must-reign-supreme-in-the-church/

    Either the church does or does not subscribe to the UNIVERSAL Declaration of Human Rights. It cannot pick and choose, saying ‘of course we do not deny women’s equality but we do not want to listen to women who claim we trample on it in practice.’ Or ‘we subscribe to the ideals of the UDHR but we see any effort to apply them in practice to the church’s treatment of women, minorities, theologians, etc., as intrusive legalism that is incompatible with… the Gospel!

    If human rights lawyers are unevangelical, why not say the same about Canon Law itself? McAleese sees Canon Law as reformable and as a possible instrument of the Gospel. Is this not in line with Roman Catholic tradition from way back?

  8. Sean O'Conaill

    As ‘equality’ is interpreted differently in Rome this is a time-honoured rabbit hole that could entrap us endlessly and prevent the search for common ground that synodality must surely be primarily about.

    What it surely cannot be about is long-distance megaphoning from well known fixed positions. That is just same-old same-old.

    If Catholic faith, at its best, is salvational in this life – despite the clerical church’s glaring imperfections – is it not the faith formation and faith continuity issue that should preoccupy us, given the crisis of meaninglessness that afflicts younger generations?

    Must there not be common ground there at least, with the clerical church’s own need for continuity not being served by the school-centred faith formation system on its last legs?

    I am frankly fed up with argument on canonical matters relating to power and control that none of us can resolve.

    Placing any bet on the collective ‘magisterium’ suddenly sitting up, slapping their foreheads and shouting ‘McAleese has got it right on human rights!’ cannot be something I would waste time thinking about – and meanwhile it is the sacramental and scriptural legacy that is salvageable.

    Massimo has got it right.

  9. Joe O'Leary

    Sean, you sound like someone under the Soviet regime who would say there is no chance that the Kremlin will listen to decadent western discourse on human rights, so lets’s accommodate ourselves as best we can to the actual practical possibilities the regime allows.

    Of course the church’s contempt in practice for the UDHR is harmless, since after all the church has only to do with putting on nice catechesis and distributing the sacraments — NOT!

    As the international womens’ day meeting a few years ago — megaphoning just outside the Vatican’s walls — clearly testified, the Vatican contempt has immediate dire consequences for everyone in church employment and for millions in poor countries who have struggled with contraception, abortion, disease prevention (‘we say no to condoms’ megaphoned the African bishops, thinking to please their financial master the Pope), and of course for the brutal oppression of lgbt folk, to which the Vatican is a major party.

  10. Phil Greene

    How crass of you Sean at #8.

    Regarding young people – please speak to those that are not going to church – they will tell you that they cannot reconcile our church teachings with the hypocritical actions of the church (in obeyance of Canon law). It makes no sense to them and they find their faith elsewhere, if at all .. shame on the institution.
    Divide and conquer could be the CC institution’s motto, they are masters of division and exclusion unfortunately.

  11. Sean O'Conaill

    #9 “Sean, you sound like someone under the Soviet regime …” etc.

    Under the Soviet regime, Joe, people still were able to look after their children and teach them a faith AS WELL AS sound off at and agitate against the system. Generations grew up that way before the system was overthrown.

    You never seem to get the point about basic practical family priorities, and I seriously wonder why that is. Why would it have made sense for those living under the Soviet system to do NOTHING OTHER THAN agitate against that system, leaving their children to starve spiritually as well as physically?

    As for Ireland’s clerical representatives of the Roman system, most of ’em are now more like the children of Lir in their dotage than the KGB – and seriously demoralised as well. Why on earth should I turn down any opportunity to ‘walk together’ with them, when teenagers are suffering mental health issues unnecessarily due to Snapchat et al, and priests could easily address that issue when alerted to it – as I am sure they are already doing in Killala?

    Is that truly what you are saying I should do – stick to megaphoning at a canonical inertia that every earth glacier is now outpacing?

    Don’t we have yourself and Mary to do the megaphoning anyway, while we do that? (No better man or woman for the job!)

  12. Sean O'Conaill

    #10 Could you please identify this ‘crassness’, Phil?

    Having done nothing else than worry about the plight of young people alienated from the church since 1994, and written extensively on the matter, I am startled at this charge.

    For me ‘faith formation’ is not faith in an institution but in a Lord who attacked all hypocrisy. Are you arguing that it is a waste of time trying to pass on that faith to young people?

    What is clear from all this is that ‘reformers’ have different priorities. We should accept that surely, and not attribute bad faith to those whose practical order of priorities is different from our own?

  13. Joe O'Leary

    Sean, I don’t get this dualism of family and megaphoning. In the case of Mrs McAleese the megaphoning and her concern for families including her own are intimately intertwined.

    And note again that the issues she highlights intimately concern families, as the Vatican event to which she was disinvited clearly manifested.

    Just because all the megaphoning about church oppression of women and lgbt folk has gone unheard for fifty years (and with a stark refusal to listen even for a moment to women or to lgbt folk and their parents) does not make it all right that so many catholics are bleeding and crushed in their family lives (and many young catholics see that as of a piece with the sex abuse scandals).

    What kind of catechesis is the church giving by its public statements and actions? The questions this prompts from secondary school students must undercut even the best catechetical programs.

    Now I see that Pope Benedict has made another statement, prefaced by Pope Francis, and reflecting perfectly the attitude of the CDF: https://www.la-croix.com/Religion/charge-Benoit-XVI-contre-mariage-homosexuel-2021-09-16-1201175784?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR2Q6x0WKi_D12QkuCyCP8F7y0Son-qEOpruiyP8fp2E1ITkTq5F2gz7ltc#Echobox=1631792799

    Does this not stink?

    A third prong of Mary McAleese’s scholarship and activism is the desire to save the church from its own suicidal policies. The church is retrenching into devotionalism (as in the Hungarian Eucharistic procession, not to mention Medjugorje, etc.); but this cannot save it.

    She sees as we all do generations of Irish people, including family members, cut off from church and starving spiritually. It is shocking that the Vatican is as much help to these people as the avowedly atheistic Kremlin was to Russians in the Soviet times.

  14. Eddie Finnegan

    Joe@13: “Now I see that Pope Benedict has made another statement, prefaced by Pope Francis, and reflecting perfectly the attitude of the CDF: . . . . . Does this not stink?”

    Is it only Irish Presidents emeritae who have the right to make yet another statement, at near-encyclical length, to be approved in however nuanced a fashion by the usual commentariat? Or should we not allow Benedict and Francis the scope for clarifying their positions in their own time and in their own slightly nuanced manner, even if they both to an extent echo the CDF? And how does “this . . stink”?

  15. Sean O’Conaill

    #13 Look back, Joe, to see that I did not argue for any abandonment of the causes Mary McAleese espouses. What I said #8 is that the search for common ground by other means (e.g. ‘synodality’ at local level) should not be postponed until those positions (e.g. the implementation of the UN declaration on human rights, on her terms) have been accepted.

    If that is not Mary McAleese’s position I stand corrected, but is not Massimo Faggioli reading her that way also?

    If you look for the recording of Brendan Hoban’s presentation to acireland.ie on the Killala synodal process you will see that there, in the west of Ireland, there was an extraordinary consensus on the need for an inclusive, loving and just approach towards those family issues of sexual orientation and gender – totally at odds with the legalistic, paranoid, and hostile attitudes in Rome that you rightly decry.

    Should every other Irish diocese be denied any opportunity for such an experience until Francis has publicly come round to Mary McAleese’s position?

    Is it not at ground level, out of the glare of media looking for ‘dualism’ and duelling, that change is most likely to happen, and could that not be precisely why Francis is pushing synodality everywhere?

    My fear is that if nothing but negativity is expressed towards even the smallest glimmer of an offer of dialogue, then megaphoning becomes also a self-fulfilling prophecy of eternal hostility, and to what end?

    Is e.g. James Martin SJ rubbishing synodality until the UN Declaration on human rights has been fully implemented? I don’t know but you are usually well ahead on this.

  16. Sean O’Conaill

    Brendan Hoban’s talk to ACI on the Killala process is listenable from here:

    https://acireland.ie/canon-law-must-catch-up-with-synodality-fr-brendan-hoban-to-aci/

  17. Joe O'Leary

    Eddie, I think the Catholic Church is going to founder on the reef of its contempt for lgbt people. Of course we all know about Vatican personnel and islamic male prostitutes, but that very situation only compounds the problem. The hypocrisy is manifest and it is the first thing disenchanted young people mention as they say goodbye to the church.

    Benedict XVI, ever since the dreadful Homosexualitatis Problema, still proudly held up by the Vatican as supreme wisdom after 35 further years of refusing to listen and refusing to dialogue, has been a catastrophe not only for the church but for lgbt people worldwide.

    I know that Mary McAleese can be abrasive, but I also see that a considerable amount of the resentment of her among clergy and males is based on homophobia and misogyny.

    Prove me wrong, please, by pointing to your own statements in support of lbgt people.

  18. Joe O'Leary

    I admire both Mary and Massimo, and would like to see them work together. He does not understand her when he sees her as a legalist. Of course she wants local synodality — what else is the Root and Branch movement about? (Or the German Synodal Path.) To see it as blocking good things happening in Killala looks like a false dualism.

  19. Joe O'Leary

    When people hear the words Canon Law they immediately think of legalism. But as a human rights lawyer Mary McAleese knows that law can serve liberation. And as a professor of Canon Law she has inherited the great Catholic tradition of seeing Canon Law as an instrument of the Gospel. But — semper reformanda!

  20. Joe O'Leary

    Like Brendan, I am stunned by the warm response to the Killala initiative of empowering lay participation, something I have seen before in the case of one or two remarkable priests both in Cork and in Tokyo. Now the difference is that such process is understood and encouraged by the official church rather than viewed with suspicion.

  21. Phil Greene

    To Sean at #12
    I am very late in responding (busy day) and note the conversation has moved on somewhat but wanted to respond to your questions.
    My personal feelings, given Soline’s account of her experiences with our Clerical hierarchy, was that your statement below was quite crass.
    “I am frankly fed up with argument on canonical matters relating to power and control that none of us can resolve.”
    It’s quite difficult hearing this comment from a man I must admit, for as women we so need to believe that this can change, that these men will eventually see sense, that if we shout loud enough, we might be heard… I could go on, but you have heard it all before, too many times to count. Married priests and many others who are maligned no doubt feel the same and possibly you too – the comment, suffice to say, jarred me to think of it in this way.
    Regarding your question –
    For me ‘faith formation’ is not faith in an institution but in a Lord who attacked all hypocrisy. Are you arguing that it is a waste of time trying to pass on that faith to young people?
    I note your worry and certainly meant no disrespect to your very real concerns surrounding Faith formation and I am not arguing that it is a waste of time, but unfortunately, as we know fewer people want CC faith formation as it does not fit into the world in which we live in and is viewed as irrelevant. It does not mean that it is not important of course. I have not read your books and so will not comment further at a general level. In my own experience my daughter asks me how I can be a member of such an organisation as the CC whilst still valuing democracy and equality so much? Her generation’s values do not align with the CC’s wishful thinking on how women should behave coupled with their male superiority complexes. Faith and the institution cannot be separated for her and her friends – hypocrisy prevails in Faith vs canonical matters and provides too much fodder for difficult debates. A child can sadly see its parent as a hypocrite also.
    As people of God, we need our Mary, we need her voice, her leadership, her proven track record in high-profile well-respected positions and disciplines, her strength and courage, her ability to sit and have a cuppa and a chat with someone like me up to (other) heads of States, commanding respect, being heard, saying what needs to be said for the good of all. Let her talk and be critiqued as men are, and let other women talk, very loudly!

  22. Paddy Ferry

    Phil@21,

    ” In my own experience my daughter asks me how I can be a member of such an organisation as the CC whilst still valuing democracy and equality so much? Her generation’s values do not align with the CC’s wishful thinking on how women should behave coupled with their male superiority complexes. Faith and the institution cannot be separated for her and her friends – hypocrisy prevails in Faith vs canonical matters and provides too much fodder for difficult debates. A child can sadly see its parent as a hypocrite also”.

    The above, Phil, is exactly my experience too except that I have two daughters who wonder how I can still be part of such a “corrupt” organisation.

    Having now heard from Soline on how she was treated by Cardinal Connell and the Dublin Council of Priests I don’t think that adjective is actually over the top.

    And, of course, I totally agree with everything you say about Mary.
    Thank God for her.

  23. Sean O’Conaill

    #21 Thanks, Phil. I can see how my way of putting that impatience with the canon law reform cause could read as a put-down of the cause of equality and of female equality especially. That was not my intention.

    Brendan Hoban’s statement to our ACI Zoom meeting – that canon law needs to catch up with synodality – was a better expression of what I meant. For those who are ready, freedom in the spirit allows us to relate as Christians in a perfect equality already: we do not need to wait for ‘the machine’ to grind into action decades or centuries behind the curve to update a canon law system that still allows a Catholic cleric anywhere to be dismissive of the equality principle, and worse.

    My fear was that what I read as a too negative a reaction to Pope Francis’s synodality initiative could lead people in Ireland to dismiss before the fact whatever that leads to by way of opportunity for dialogue in their own space in the coming months and years.

    For me ‘the church’ is not the Catholic clerical system but the totality of those who respond sincerely to the Gospel – and up here in Coleraine that includes Christian friends, male and female, in other denominations.

    I was frankly startled to read Cardinal Grech as affirming the priority of the Christian family above the clerical institution, because that is also to affirm the decrepitude of a canon law system which privileges clergy and ordination above baptism. Some clerics have obviously thought far harder and longer about the collapse of Christendom than others – and we do not yet know how that, and Covid 19, are impacting on clergy here in Ireland.

    We can expect great variability, but I am always an optimist. The spirit blows where she wills, as Mary McAleese has so often proven.

  24. Eddie Finnegan

    Joe O’Leary @17
    Quote: “I know that Mary McAleese can be abrasive, but I also see that a considerable amount of the resentment of her among clergy and males is based in homophobia and misogyny. Prove me wrong, please, by pointing to your own statements in support of lbgt (sic) people.”

    Joe, I’ve just come across this strange response to what I did not say. Just what are you up to here? Some sort of ad hominem phantom prooftexting? You haven’t answered any of the three questions I asked @14. Your prediction of the fairly imminent foundering of the barque of Peter on a metaphorical reef perhaps needs further evidence. BUT, Young Man, never dare suggest that I might be either homophobic or misogynistic based solely upon what I haven’t written here in the past decade.

  25. Joe O'Leary

    Eddie, I was referring solely to your put-down of McAleese and mildness to Ratzinger’s outrageous new intervention: ‘Is it only Irish Presidents emeritae who have the right to make yet another statement, at near-encyclical length, to be approved in however nuanced a fashion by the usual commentariat? Or should we not allow Benedict and Francis the scope for clarifying their positions in their own time and in their own slightly nuanced manner, even if they both to an extent echo the CDF?’ If you have something more positive to say, please make it heard.

  26. Eddie Finnegan

    Joe@25, that was no put-down of Mary McAleese. Maybe you should have read my immediate response to her address at the Root & Branch Synod (first comment on the appropriate thread, 12 September). Finding space for positive comment can be difficult amid so much negativity.

  27. Phil Dunne

    Returning to Soline’s experience of “listening to women”. In the 90’s I was elected by my parish to the Dublin Diocesan Women’s Forum. When elected I was determined to help to make a difference. My parish at the time was supportive. The group I was part of met, prayed, listened and submitted papers. I wonder where our recommendations are gathering dust now?

    The Forum was set up prior to the huge revelations of child sexual abuse. Imagine how different the response might have been had the Forum and other such groups been consulted.

    I’m far less naive now and know that the RCC is not a place where women find equality, dignity or respect whatever the window dressing used.

  28. Soline Humbert

    On Consulting the Faithful
    #27 following Phil’s mention of revelations of clerical child sexual abuse, I should add to my original post that one of the priest members of our small Dublin Priests Council sub-committee, Women In the Church, was subsequently revealed as one of the worst paedo-criminals. Fr Noel Reynolds disclosed it himself to me and another priest before his being named publicly after his death.My experience of the sub-committee had already been a very painful one, as detailed above, but this added further to the shock and deep sense of betrayal of trust.
    I share Phil’s experience of the Dublin Women’s Forum, for I too was elected representative for my parish, and yes the reports gathered dust…

  29. Joe O'Leary

    Oops, my apologies, Eddie, I’ve been misreading you. You did indeed say this earlier:

    ‘This is surely the best of Mary McAleese as she exposes Pope Francis’s most hopeful ideas to the clear daylight of reality. Reality, as he says, is bigger than ideas. Dr McAleese should be lauded by her fellow canon lawyer Cardinal Mario Grech – himself a gift to any possibility of a really synodal Church, and at 64 likely to be around for ten or twenty years after Francis. It’s grand to talk about candour and free speech dressed up as ‘parrhesia’ in a synod of bishops not accustomed to exercising it among themselves or in their own ‘episcopal conferences’ at home, let alone suggesting that it might belong by right to the merely baptised in their dioceses and parishes. As for its chance of taking root in the Irish Synod over the next few years, the limited view of what a synod is for even as expressed by Ireland’s youngest bishop as a synod coordinator suggests that maybe the Holy Spirit should not hold her breath.’

  30. Eddie Finnegan

    Joe@29
    Cheers, Joe.

  31. Phil Greene

    To Paddy @ #22
    Ah, you are truly blessed among women then Paddy 😊
    Yes, the corruption issue cannot be defended, we were so naïve..
    To quote Buddha “Money is the worst discovery of human life, but it is the most trusted material to test human nature.”
    I cannot understand why they are still allowed in law to call the annual Vatican’s collection “the Peter’s Pence” collection, so misrepresentative – the Monarchy’s Millions seems more befitting! And they had no shame is making the collection again this year, even with the Sloane Ave. fraud trial highlighting the total abhorrent mismanagement of the fund. Reform cannot come quick enough. And then there are the abuse cover-up scandals … the lists go on… it is very difficult to pass on the faith without a radical change that says not only will they listen, but they will act too.

    To Sean @#23

    Thank you Sean for taking the time to help us clear the air, for my part I think I reacted a tad too hastily in hindsight.

    Re your comment
    My fear was that what I read as a too negative a reaction to Pope Francis’s synodality initiative could lead people in Ireland to dismiss before the fact whatever that leads to by way of opportunity for dialogue in their own space in the coming months and years.

    I can appreciate your fear as in a previous thread I had no hope for this process, especially for women, until Soline attached Mary Mc Aleese’s keynote speech for the Root and Branch Synod. Mary’s speech I think, also showed us that this is a journey and we can still change its path. I see locally that our priests and pastoral workers are kept so busy with clearing the FHC, Confirmation and Baptisms backlog that they must have no time at present to look at handbooks etc., I would have loved to hear from our Parish Council though as they are mainly lay people after all!

    To Soline

    Thank you Soline for sharing your absolutely dreadful experience as part of an official sub-committee – I think we need to hear more of these experiences from people like your good-self and Phil Dunne, no more silence dressed up as (misplaced) loyalty.
    Re Canon 212.3 – Possibly a silly question – is there a template response we could use to send our requests to the Vatican available? Or a suggestion of the terminology to be used – they do like their flowery language so should we use language they can relate to?

    Good night and God Bless you all.

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