Voices from the conference


Ronan McCoyArdee, Co Louth

A Jesuit clerical student for two years Ronan is now an arts student in Galway.

“The Jesuits taught me to think for myself and reflect and made me realise I hadn’t been grown up enough to make it in an institution. I needed to step out of the establishment for a time.”

He had never thought of leaving the church until the last few weeks and the censuring of Fr Tony Flannery. He attended the conference because “even if I feel that nothing can change it’s important to come and see there are many people who are angry and want change”.

Carmel O'ConnorBaldoyle, Dublin

Carmel attended the conference because “I want to support the people trying to bring about change, the people in the church trying to affect change.”

She believes “it’s absolutely wonderful that there are people prepared to speak out”.

Asked her view about Cardinal Seán Brady she said “I think for everyone’s sake Cardinal Brady would be better off standing down. That would be seen as a positive response to the situation.”

David ClearyDundrum, Dublin

David is involved in Magis Ireland, a Jesuit young Catholic group in Gardiner Street and helps prepare the gospel choir Mass, aimed at young people.

“The church is very divided between top and bottom, between hierarchy and the laity. It’s dangerous and also there is fear. The bishops don’t know how to engage and they are in fear of the wrath of the Vatican.”

The church is in “lockdown mode and all about protecting the institution”. Asked his view of Cardinal Brady’s positions he said: “He has lost credibility and a good deal of it a long time ago.”

Iva BeranekClonskeagh, Dublin

Iva, originally from Croatia, is studying for a doctorate in christian spirituality. She was concerned about “different groups in the church labelling each other”. She believes “we really need to be a listening church” and a “welcoming” church. She is glad “there are a real variety of voices represented here. I think if really there was listening in the church people who might have an issue with this (conference), might not have an issue.”

It is “extremely difficult to be truly welcoming. You would have to welcome the Vatican’s view as well and try to understand it.”

Ronnie OwensSlane, Co Meath

Ronnie attended “because I’m interested in how public morality evolves in general, ideas of what is important, what is good and bad”.

He highlights issues such as smoking and the environment. “The church doesn’t speak at all about environmentalism.”

Asked his view of Cardinal Brady’s position he believes “it is a sidetrack and nothing to do with adressing child sexual abuse”.

“My sense is that the church has addressed and essentially eliminated or almost eliminated child sexual abuse.”

Sr Mary O'ConnorDundalk, Co Louth

The St Louis nun attended the conference because “I really want to support the ACP (Association of Catholic Priests). They are the people who have stood up and had the courage to say what the rest of us feel.”

She said of the five priests who have been censured that “at least they’ll hear that they have got support.” She believes there “should be equality for women in the church and there never has been. There should be women priests but women should be involved in the discussion or even the homilies. The wisdom of women is missing in the church...”