Pope Francis urged to share decision making

Irish groups among those calling for equal treatment of gays, women and all baptised

Co-founder of the Association of Catholic priests Fr Tony Flannery. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Co-founder of the Association of Catholic priests Fr Tony Flannery. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


Efforts by the Catholic church to preach justice and equality are being stymied because of a failure to address these issues internally, more than 100 Catholic groups - including three from Ireland - have told Pope Francis.

In response to the pope’s call for dialogue within the church , the groups who claim to represent four million Catholics around the world, have co-signed a letter to Pope Francis urging widespread reform including shared decision making among all baptised members of the church, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The Irish groups which are signatories to the letter include the Association of Catholic Priests, the Association of Catholics in Ireland and We are the Church Ireland.

The letter , which was sent in advance of a key meeting of Cardinals tomorrow to examine church governance makes five points.

These are:

That the Roman Catholic Church’s commitment to justice is compromised “and is often viewed as hypocritical” because injustice exists within the church itself.

“ That dialogue urged by Pope Francis is incompatible with the censorship or sanctioning of ordained members of the church.

“ That the church recognise the fundamental equality of its members, including gay and lesbian, married, divorced and women, and not restrict governance to ordained male members.

“ That the church “effectively confronts and prevents” sexual abuse.

At a press reception in Dublin today censored priest Fr Tony Flannery, co-founder of the Association of Catholic priests, said recent pronouncements by Pope Francis on dialogue, jusitice and equality had created a “great sense of excitement” in the worldwide reform movement within the church.

He said the stricture of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was “thinking with the church”. On this basis he had been censored. But he said “Francis turns it completely upside down” and thinking with the church was now being seen as the whole church and not just the current views of the hierarchy. “It is a grand old time, it is very exciting at the moment” he said.

As regards his own position as a censored priest he said following the pope’s comments it was expected that local bishops would have the responsibility for censorship. But he said in Ireland as the six priests currently censored were members of religious orders it was for the leaders of those orders to handle the matter. He urged such leaders to have “the courage to embrace that power”.

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