Priests accuse bishops of ‘trying to fob us off’

Prelates ‘don’t want exclusive club changed’, Association of Catholic Priests meeting told

Fr Dan O’Mahony of Achonry diocese said “new models of priesthood need to be looked at. A change of ‘uniform’ as well.”

Many priests at the well-attended annual general meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Athlone on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the bishops to a meeting last May with a delegation from the association. The bishops were accused of “trying to fob us off”.

Fr Kevin Hegarty of Killala diocese said a letter sent to the ACP last month was “a marvellous illumination of the Seamus Heaney line ‘whatever you say, say nothing’.”

Mill Hill priest Fr Kevin Reynolds, now of Elphin diocese, said “the bishops do not and will not recognise the ACP as an existing reality. They don’t want their exclusive clerical club changed by an association representing 1,000 priests. They least they could do is respect us, acknowledge we exist and that we have something to say.”

Fr Tim Murphy of the Dublin archdiocese warned against a scattergun approach in dealing with the bishops and suggested that “we should go bald-headed for a synod of the Irish church.”


Passionist priest Fr Pat Rogers also spoke of “prioritising a synod”. He said “the church has become invisible on the media. The religious voice has almost disappeared.” He suggested the ACP leadership might “fill that lacuna”.

Redemptorist priest Fr Adrian Egan wondered “why bother” where future meetings with the bishops were concerned. “Carry on as an alternate voice,” he suggested.

Fr Dan O’Mahony of Achonry diocese said “new models of priesthood need to be looked at. A change of ‘uniform’ as well.” He also referred to how people “see so little of the bishop. It would be very strange for a football manager never to see his team.”

Bishops “need to be more directly and more pastorally involved with their dioceses,” he said.

The meeting elected Fr Roy Donavan and Fr Tim Hazelwood to the ACP leadership team to replace Fr Seán McDonagh and Fr Séamus Ahearne, who have stood down.

The ACP financial report showed its income for the past year was €20,800 with expenditure of €5,500 leaving a total balance of €31,000 in its account.

Administrative secretary Liamy McNally was introduced to the meeting.

The meeting was also told the ACP website – – received 62,000 hits last month, with 280,000 views.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times