Call on bishops ‘to show in practice that they believe in Francis’

Further confirmation that younger Catholic priests are uneasy about Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterday. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Pope Francis speaks as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterday. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 20:22

The work of a priest is “almost impossible unless there is humour, humanity, honesty”, a member the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) leadership team has commented.

Augusinian priest Fr Séamus Ahearne was expressing his support for a recent observation by the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who said the willingness of Pope Francis “to break away from accepted traditions” was a cause of disquiet among some priests.

In an address last month at the Catholic Leadership Centre in Melbourne, Archbishop Martin spoke of a curate in Dublin who was “not at all happy with some of the utterances of Pope Francis, which he felt were not in line with what he had learned in the seminary, and he felt that this was making the faithful insecure and even encouraging those who do not hold the orthodox Catholic belief to challenge traditional teaching”.

Fr Ahearne said the archbishop’s observations were “apt”.

He said younger priests were “very few and some embrace a very traditionalist view of Church. It is understandable too because there is great insecurity among the young. They need certainties. We don’t have them.”

Fr Ahearne, parish priest at Rivermount in Finglas, Dublin, said: “Priesting is almost impossible unless there is humour, humanity, honesty. Life has to be flexible and adaptable. Liturgy has to be tailor-made to the experiences of people - it is never monastic. The rigidities are of no use and are destructive. Faith-life is very untidy as is every life and every family and every parish.”

He recalled how the ACP was formed with the aims of trying to live the vision of the Second Vatican Council. “We now find that much of what we have said is echoed by Francis. He has indeed ‘stolen our clothes’.”

The ACP were “at home with his language and his challenge”, he said.