Bishops shun church reform assembly


CATHOLIC BISHOPS declined to attend a conference at the weekend organised by priests who want reform of the church.

About 400 people attended the assembly in Galway on Saturday which was organised by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

Fr Tony Flannery, one of the founding members of the ACP two years ago, which represents 800 priests in Ireland, was silenced earlier this year by the Vatican because of his liberal views.

Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist priest based at Esker in Co Galway, incurred the wrath of the church hierarchy when he publicly backed criticism of the Vatican by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Fr Flannery, who chaired Saturday’s assembly which was predominantly attended by lay people, said the church was reaching a breaking point, which must be acknowledged by the hierarchy.

None of the bishops in the west of Ireland, all of whom had been invited, attended the assembly.

“There was a real recognition that the church is in deep trouble and that is not being faced up to . . .,” said Fr Flannery.

He declined to comment on his ongoing dealings with the Vatican surrounding his silencing.