Association seeking more dialogue in church 'not dissenting priests'


THE ONLY one of the four-member leadership team of the Association of Catholic Priests absent from yesterday’s press conference was Fr Tony Flannery. He has been advised by Rome to go to a monastery where he might “pray and reflect” on his liberal views and his role with the association.

None of his three colleagues has been spoken to by a superior or advised go to a monastery because of their liberal views or their role with the association. This was confirmed yesterday by Columban priest Fr Seán McDonagh; Fr Brendan Hoban, parish priest at Ballina Co Mayo; and Fr PJ Madden who serves in Graigcullen, Co Carlow.

Members of the association were “not dissenting priests”, Fr Hoban said. “We are reflecting what we have been hearing in parishes for years . . . we have to give voice to the people. The idea of handing down is not going to work. Laity are now far more educated than ever before and have to be given a voice.”

He continued: “We are not leading a breakaway from Rome. The connection is important but changes in line with Vatican II haven’t happened. We have no problem with the fundamental teachings of the church but we are very conscious of the Second Vatican Council.”

Fr McDonagh said “there has always been change in the church”. What the association wanted was “to see the reforms of Vatican II introduced,”, he said.

Pope Paul VI spoke “of the church in dialogue. We need to do more dialogue,” he said. What had been happening for “the last three or four decades” was that the curia in Rome was “trying to bring back control to the Vatican itself”.

The church may not be a democracy “but it is not an autocracy either. It is a community of the faithful,” he said.

Fr Madden spoke of “a rump more Catholic than the pope” who were reporting people to Rome.

One of the association’s “biggest concerns” was that the reports of such “unidentified sources are being acted on” in Rome.

The association took “grave exception” to that type of practice.

The priests have invited the bishops and the papal nuncio to their “Towards an Assembly of the Irish Catholic Church” event on May 7th in Dublin.