‘Lively and fruitful’ meeting of Irish Catholic priests near Athlone
‘Enormous dissatisfaction’ with new missal expressed by representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests
Fr Brendan Hoban: a purpose of the Association of Catholic Priests meeting was to attempt to improve communications with the dioceses. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Problems presented by the declining number of Catholic priests and “enormous dissatisfaction with the new missal” were among items discussed at a meeting of diocesan representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests
near Athlone this week.
In all 31 priests attended, representing three-quarters of the 26 Catholic dioceses in Ireland. The meeting on Tuesday took place at a hotel in Co Roscommon.
According to a report on the meeting published on the the association’s website, one major topic discussed was the declining number of priests.
“Many angles of this problem were raised, ranging from the pressure being put on priests in their old age to the further decline of local communities when they are deprived of a resident priest.
“It was stressed that we should not look on this issue in a clericalist way since it is a matter that concerns the whole church.”
Also discussed was the new missal “and the question of whether there was anything that could be done about it at this stage”.
Feedback to the association’s leadership “was generally very positive”.
“It was mentioned that some priests do not approve of us, but the feeling was that, while a great many priests do not want to be bothered by going to meetings or even joining, that generally the work of the association is appreciated and valued.”
Founder member Fr Brendan Hoban said that a purpose of the meeting was to attempt to improve communications with the dioceses.
He acknowledged that the association, which operates without office or secretarial facilities, had not always been able to keep lines of communication as open as the leadership would wish. This week’s meeting was mainly for the diocesan representatives to talk to the leadership.
In general the meeting was “lively and fruitful” with “a great sense of freedom and openness in the contributions that were made”, and “as has become the norm at ACP meetings”.
At its conclusion the association’s leadership felt it was “much clearer on the message we would like to bring to the bishops if and when they agree to our request for a meeting”.