Laity to set up church reform groups


FOLLOWING THE Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church gathering in Dublin’s Regency Hotel three weeks ago, which was attended by over 1,000 Catholic laity, priests and nuns calling for dialogue in the Irish church, two further events are planned for this coming week.

A meeting will take place in All Hallows College, Dublin at 8pm on Wednesday, May 30th. It will discuss the formation of an umbrella group to represent laity interested in supporting reform and renewal in the church.

“We feel that an umbrella organisation will bring greater focus and cohesion to the ‘lay voice’ calling for dialogue,” said Noel McCann, one of the organisers of Wednesday’s meeting.

“Our aim would be to establish the organisation in the mainstream, and with the moral authority coming from a significant membership [so that it can] become relevant to the debate on the future reform and renewal of our church,” he said.

The intention was “to discuss the options with representatives of existing groups and interested individuals at next Wednesday’s meeting, which will, hopefully, be the start of a vibrant new lay organisation which will give a real voice to those who currently feel excluded from any form of meaningful dialogue in our church,” he said.

Those interested should contact him at

Meanwhile the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) – which organised the Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church event – is planning a meeting at the MacWilliam Hotel in Claremorris, Co Mayo, at 8pm on Wednesday.

The meeting will discuss plans to set up regional events similar to the recent one in Dublin, to take place in early autumn.

Over 900 priests have now signed up as members of the ACP.

The Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) has expressed its support for the ACP. Fr David Cooper, chairman of the AUSCP, spoke in a statement of the ACP’s work as “a great service to the enterprise of dialogue so dear to the Fathers of Vatican Council Two 50 years ago.”

In a statement on the ACP website Fr Brendan Hoban of its leadership team emphasised that it “does not seek to overturn the defined teaching of the Catholic Church.” It “wants to have a conversation about the realities of Irish church life today and about issues we believe the Irish church urgently needs to discuss”.

It “is no threat to the unity of the church . . . We cherish and we value and we wish to further the unity of all our people, with our fellow clergy, with religious, with our bishops and with the successor of Peter,” he said.

“We have a right and a duty to discuss the problems facing the church. Silencing us will not make the issues go away. It will only create more unhappiness, and damage the unity of the church.

“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental Christian teaching; it is not a strange or frightening concept. The word ‘dissident’ does not describe us. We are at the heart of our church, and that is where we wish to stay. So, please, work with us; talk with us; pray with us.”