Month: August 2016

There’s Something about Seminaries

Maynooth seminary is still grabbing headlines.
Tony Flannery, on his own website, gives a frank opinion of the most recent proposals put forward by the trustees. “Are these men serious? Do they expect this effort at very traditional regimentation, and equally traditional spirituality, to solve the problems they believe existed?”
Brian Eyre, commenting from the remove of Brazil, sees merit in a proposal that “a subcommittee of lay people, families and “especially the presence of women” will be introduced as part of priestly formation”.
Meanwhile Cindy Wooden, writing in America Magazine, reports on Pope Francis speaking in Krakow about the training of seminarians. Pope Francis is reported as saying “too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance.” and “”We need to truly understand this: in life not all is black on white or white on black,” he said. “The shades of grey prevail in life. We must them teach to discern in this gray area.”
Perhaps Maynooth’s trustees should consult Pope Francis?

The Poetry of life – and I was thinking!

Seamus Ahearne has been reflecting on his life’s vocation and work, and “has been thinking” and thankfully writing for us.
As always his thoughts are a wonderful antidote to the often banal, myopic, clichéd and uninspiring writing that is done about church and religion in Ireland.
His words challenge all of us to find new ways of ministering to each other.

“there is an absence of gratitude. There is a crudity in our public discourse. How can there be Eucharist if we don’t come in humility to say thanks to God? If we don’t stop to be aware of the ‘gracefulness’ of life; if we don’t stop in utter amazement at the very mystery of life in nature, in people, in moments. If we don’t look at a baby and become more human; if we don’t look at a leaf and become more human; if we don’t look at the exuberance of a child for First Communion and become more human; if we don’t look at the act of faith of two lovers in marrying and become more human; if we don’t see the selflessness of parents and become more human; if we don’t see the prayerfulness of our faithful and become more human.”

Pope Francis and the Challenge of being Church today

Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta, NSW, spoke recently about how we are now ‘living in a watershed and a privileged moment in the history of the Church.’ It is a time with demands and challenges for us.
He said that in church ‘It is not “business as usual”. There needs to be an attitudinal change at every level, a conversion of mind and heart that conforms us to the spirit of the Gospel, a new wine into new wineskins, not a superficial change or, worse, a retreat into restorationism.

Gaudium et Spes, the guiding document of the Council, presented a new paradigm: the church is not an enclosure which protects its members against the sinful world. It is a fellow pilgrim with the men and women of our age. It is a church incarnate in the world. Therefore, it is time not of fearful retreat, disengagement and self-referential pomp, but of accompaniment and engagement.

The church will be less than what Christ intends it to be when issues of inclusion and equality are not fully addressed. That is why you heard me say that I am guided by the radical vision of Christ. I am committed to make the church in Parramatta the house for all peoples, a church where there is less an experience of exclusion but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity.

We cannot be a strong moral force and an effective prophetic voice in society if we are simply defensive, inconsistent and divisive with regards to certain social issues. We cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression in the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women and homosexual persons.”

It is a long but worthwhile read and can be downloaded in Pdf format

On women’s ordination, who is able to speak?

John Shea, like many others, is seeking explanations about the church’s stance on the ordination of women. He continues to request bishops and others to engage in discussion on the topic.
For newer readers we again carry copies of his letters in the hope of stimulating further discussion.
“Is it already too late to talk about the search for truth? Is skewed patriarchal thinking the best we can bring? Are historical explanations the same as theological explanations? Is a folk theory of gender the essence of revelation? Was Jesus wonderfully patriarchal? Is the past prologue or is it meant to be an endless present of male superiority and privilege?”

Bishop Edward Daly – An appreciation

Paddy O’Kane writes a personal appreciation of the late Edward Daly, bishop of Derry from 1974 to 1993. Paddy refers to Edward Daly’s outspoken views on the topic on mandatory celibacy for priests. He quotes Edward Daly from his book ‘A Troubled See.’
“I ask myself, more and more why celibacy should be the great sacred and unyielding arbiter, the paradigm of the diocesan priesthood. Why not prayerfulness, conviction in the faith, knowledge of the faith, ability to communicate in the modern age, honesty, integrity, humility, a commitment to social justice, a work ethic, respect for others, compassion and caring?
Surely many of these qualities are as at least as important in a diocesan priest as celibacy – yet celibacy seems to be perceived as the predominant obligation …”

The election of bishops – ACP Statement

“The ACP believes that, at this most critical juncture for the Catholic Church in Ireland, the policies being pursued by Archbishop Browne in the choice of bishops are, in the main, inadequate to the needs of our time, at odds with the expectations of people and priests and out of sync with the new church dispensation, ushered in by the election of Pope Francis over three years ago and the changed perspective of his renewed commitment to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.”

Seminaries perpetuate gender inequality in church

Soline Humbert, writing in the Irish Times, states that the problems of Maynooth, and all seminaries, go far beyond what has been spoken of in recent times and in a challenging article argues that “Seminaries perpetuate the unjust rule of men over women in the church”.
However as “patriarchal hierarchical structures die, new communities and ministries are born, witnesses that, in the risen Christ, there is no longer male and female. We are one.”

Prising open the door – women deacons

Brendan Hoban, writing in the Western People, feels that many have missed the true historic significance of the commission, established by Pope Francis, to examine the issue of the ordination of women as deacons .
“Leaving aside the ordination issue it has been obvious for years that women could have been involved at a much higher level in church affairs but that they were systematically excluded by an unapologetic sexist mentality in the Vatican.”

“The cat is out of the bag. By establishing the commission and outlining its remit, Francis has effectively opened up the issue of women’s ordination for discussion, even though a few short years ago his two predecessors tried ‘definitively’ to close that discussion down. A few short years ago we weren’t even allowed to think about women’s ordination. Now the Catholic Church is officially considering the ordination of women deacons.
August 2, 2016 may well be remembered as a crucial day in the history of Catholicism.”

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics

In response to Seán McDonagh’s call for more discussion in church about issues that matter and are relevant to the lives of all people rather than silly season tabloid fodder Joe O Leary replied with a long response that includes an article by Stefano Zamagni, on “Ecology, Economics, and Ethics”.
We carry it as a stand alone post rather than a reply as it is well worth reading. Our thanks to Joe.

Silly Season Scrum: Archbishop Martin and the Media

In the wake of the controversy aroused by Archbishop Martin’s comments about his decision to transfer the three Dublin diocesan students from Maynooth Seán McDonagh wrote in the Irish Independent last week to express his surprise and disappointment at the issues that exercise and energise some of our bishops and most of the media.
“nobody mentioned three of the most significant documents of the modern Church – The Joy of the Gospel, Laudato Si’ : On Care For Our Common Home and The Joy of Love. These are pivotal documents in the modern Church and yet, they were missing for the debate.
I look forward to the day when the media – if they are genuinely interested in the future of the Irish Church- will afford the same time, interest and energy to discussing the latter as they have to this week’s Maynooth story. “
Perhaps we could apply that wish for the media to church as well and even to commentary on our website!

Sharing a vision

Jeannine Gramick writes in the NCR about meeting old friends at the annual conference of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests in Chicago.
“I had found them 40 years later — concerned about a Vatican II vision of church and yearning for a community with the same hopes and dreams for justice and peace. They seemed to have found this vision in Pope Francis and to have realized community in a group called the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.”

Is there any learning for ourselves to be gleaned from the experience of our U.S. friends in AUSCP?

Women Deacons; ready, willing and able

With the appointment of a ‘Commission of Study on the Diaconate of Women’ by Pope Francis there might be a temptation to suspend the debate on the issue until they publish a report. However as Vatican commissions tend to be very long running affairs it is necessary and good that the debate continues in all local churches.
Judith Valence writing in America Magazine gives a very interesting account of how the issue is perceived in Chicago.
“Maureen Garvey often serves alongside her husband, Deacon Kevin Garvey at their parish ……. ‘We had the exact same training, two nights a week, one weekend a month, summer internships,” she says of her husband’s formation studies. “I wrote every paper he wrote. The only thing that was different was on the day of ordination, I had tears in my eyes when all the guys were called up [to the altar] and they left their wives sitting in the pews’ “

Addressing Maynooth

Brendan Hoban like many priests spent a good part of today, Friday, visiting the elderly and sick in his parish and found there’s a lot of upset out there among people about the allegations that have been made against Maynooth Seminary.
Many priests will be considering if they should address this issue at weekend Masses. Brendan offers some thoughts that might provide a bit of clarity on the background as so many are confused; it might encourage priests to address it.

Comments on this topic should be posted at “Maynooth Seminary Crisis: ACP Statement”

Reflections at a Funeral

Gabriel Daly attended the funeral of Seán Fagan and has now penned some thoughts on Seán’s funeral and ‘the suffering and injustice inflicted on him by the leaders of his own church.’
‘The presence of a bishop at Seán’s funeral would have been a golden occasion to express metanoia and the readiness to respond more sensitively to the the message of the Gospel. It would have meant so much to his family.’
‘It cannot be said too often that peace, unity and friendship in the church do not depend on agreement about matters that do not belong to the essence of the faith. What the Gospel prescribes is willingness to live together in peace, friendship and respect for ideas and attitudes that one cannot share, and finally, if possible, even to be open to the desirability of reform. …….
Pope Francis is leading with words of mercy and healing. Why are we not following?’

Gabriel Daly is author of ‘The Church always in need of Reform’, Dominican Publications,

Ministry with the freedom of poetry and the colour of marriage

Seamus Ahearne casts his eye over some of the topics that are currently exercising bloggers and bishops; i.e seminaries and diaconate and the future of ministry.
Seamus as usual views them in the wider context of living the good news, of being a living church. “Deacons. Students. Priests. Bishops. Everyone. All of us have to find our bearings in that mess. The tidiness of the past is gone. The Church has to lose control. Ministers have to be strong. Men, women, married, unmarried (as ministers) – who cares (it is so totally unimportant). All that matters is the world of faith is celebrated with humility.”

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