The letter from the Secretary of the Kildare & Leighlin Council of priests
Text of Letter
Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin
Fr. Gerard Breen,
(Secretary, K.&L. Council of Priests),
C/O Bishop’s House,
Old Dublin Road,
To whom it may concern,
The recent letter which was sent to priests by the Association of Catholic Priests was discussed at our last Council of Priests Meeting on 9th November.
While acknowledging that the letter you sent makes some very good points in relation to the care of priests, the Council strongly disagreed with the small card which was enclosed with the letter and the sinister and false suggestion that a diocesan priest must always prepare for the worst if he is ever called to meet his bishop. One of our priests commented that “The card has put a far greater distance between the diocesan priests and the A.C.P. than it has between diocesan priests and their bishops.” All members of the council agreed with this statement. Furthermore, it was proposed that the Council should write a letter the the A.C.P. in order to express our disagreement with the card and the negative impression it advanced about the relationship between diocesan priests and their bishops. Herewith, the letter.
Fr. Gerard Breen.
The reply from the Leadership of the ACP to the Secretary of the Kildare & Leighlin Council of priests
ACP correspondence address:
Association of Catholic Priests
Rev Gerard Breen
Kildare & Leighlin Council of Priests
C/O Bishop’s House
Old Dublin Road
12 January 2018
Thank you for your letter. We welcome it as an example of the dialogue and feedback the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) seeks to encourage on issues of great concern to our members and to the priests of Ireland.
We note that as your letter is addressed ‘to all concerned’ and as the issues raised are of concern to our members we have posted it and our response on the ACP website.
Can we clarify a few points?
The card which you take issue with resulted from feedback we received at regional meetings of priests at which a strong desire was expressed to have some protocols to assist priests when they find themselves in difficulty.
We discovered that, in dioceses and in religious orders, practice varies significantly. Some dioceses and religious orders treat their priests well, while, with others, this is not the case. The three case studies mentioned at the AGM were recent examples of current bad practice.
It is important to note that the protocols on the card are taken from “Guidelines for the Care and Management of Respondents (i.e. priests) Standard 4” as outlined by the National Board for Safeguarding Children.
The protocols are in line with civil rights attributed to each citizen of this country by the state, yet denied by some Church organisations to their own members. The clear intention of the card is to inform priests of their rights, to make them aware of how such rights can be protected and to offer them a place where they will find support.
We note in passing that the Irish Episcopal Conference has not as yet ratified the ‘Standard 4’ guidelines and we would encourage Councils of Priests to discuss this issue with their bishops. Perhaps the Kildare and Leighlin Council of priests might talk this through with Bishop Nulty?
Regarding the comment about the relationship between priests and bishops, we believe that a mature dialogue – honest, direct, forthright, respectful, truthful and adult to adult – is more healthy and more valuable than the indirect and subservient practices of the past which were a breeding ground for the clericalism Pope Francis so regularly condemns.
Finally, we need to say that we have been contacted by priests from Kildare and Leighlin who were anxious to distance themselves from your letter, noting that it did not represent the views of all the priests of the diocese.
Indeed we are happy to say that there has been a very positive response to the card, to the advice it offers and, more generally, to our support for our fellow-priests in difficulty. The standing ovation received by our solicitor, Mr Robert Dore, at our recent AGM is indicative of the support of our members for our track record in regard to support of priests’ rights to date.
With every good wish,
ACP Leadership Team
ACP Information Card