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Bishops to meet with ACP

Below is the text of a letter received from the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
This letter was in response to one sent to the bishops following the  Annual General Meeting of the ACP. The letter from the ACP outlined the concerns that were expressed in the resolutions passed at the meeting.

4th April 2016,
Columba Centre,
Co Kildare.

Dear Father Hoban,

I write in reply to your letters of 1st December 2015. This correspondence was circulated to all bishops at the march 2016 plenary meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference.

In order to discuss matters of mutual interest, the bishops have recommended that a group comprising the bishops from the Council for Clergy (Bishops Browne, Boyce and Nulty) along with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, meet with representatives of the Association of Catholic Priests. It is envisaged that the meeting would take place sometime in the near future. I will be in contact again to arrange a date.

With every good wish,

Yours sincerely,

G Dullea

Monsignor Gearóid Dullea,
Executive Secretary

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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    This would be a good time to serve them with a unified declaration indicating that your worldwide membership stands in solidarity with Tony Flannery and in doing so either forces the CDF to act against all of you or drop the charges (for it is unlawful for them to crucify one, where there are so many). Does your worldwide membership possess the courage to do this or do they fear further impediments from Rome? If the CDF doesn’t understand that you are creating a legal/logistical nightmare for them and does not act on this declaration, then they no longer have any right to continue their reprimand against Tony.

  2. About time! A good development thanks to the spirit-filled persistence of ACP leadership. Well done all.

  3. Martin Harran says:

    The ACP wants and needs to build a spirit of cooperation with the bishops and going into a meeting with unrealistic demands is a sheer waste of time; neither the bishops nor the ACP can *force* the CDF to do anything and demanding so would turn us into the equivalent of the Luas drivers or politicians currently playing stupid games.
    I wish everyone involved in this well and pray that it is a tentative step in building a genuine sense of mutual trust and working together to address the problems that all of us- bishops, priests and laity – know to exist and which require all of us to solve.

  4. declan cooney says:

    Which “spirit” is behind the ACP?
    Do not forget that in the 3rd temptation of Christ the devil in his cunning quoted Holy Scripture !!
    Causing division against the CDF does not appear to be the work of the Holy Spirit.

  5. This is good news at Easter. Let us pray-trust- and be led by listening, to the Holy Spirit. Dialogue, not walls, listening.

  6. Joseph Ryan says:

    It gives me great joy in this season of Easter to see at last that the Bishops and the priests of our country are coming together to talk and walk together as people who care for and minister in a struggling church.
    Leading by example is what is needed and in this the year of mercy, as we all try and build bridges of understanding, respect, co-operation and trust among all peoples and families, what a blessing it is to see these same steps are being taken now by our church pastors and leaders.
    Priests in our parishes still have great respect from the people and our bishops still aspire to be leaders who bring everyone with them – so this tentative first step is both necessary and hopeful.
    We pray that the encounter will be respectful, honest, fruitful and lacking fear or judgment.

  7. So Martin, an unrealistic demand is that if the CDF acts on Tony, then they should act on all of you? That’s about as real as it gets. Their failure to act is what has been a joke all this time. It could only happen in the church because it would never fly in the real world. I’m no legal expert although when you oversee staff numbers in excess of 300, you start to get an understanding of proper “precedent” in legal terms. The CDF has been so happy that you truly have not rocked the boat. If the bishops know anything about Human Resources, or basic human rights for that matter, it should be quick to explain the whole idea that Tony has been the scapegoat cast into the desert all this time and the CDF has no right to act against him and not the rest of you (illegal in the real world). So they need to start to call for his pardon or action against you all. Is this divisive? No. Is this an ultimatum? No. This is real world solutions to real world problems. A battle taking place in the desert of the real which happens in the world of human resources every day.
    That is the spirit of cooperation at least where it concerns the well being of all those who support Tony. *Force* is what the CDF uses like theological terrorists, especially in Tony’s case. He stands like a tortured man on the perimeter of church theology and serves as a reminder to everyone not to lay footsteps where he has been. Stupid games those are but stupid is what stupid does.
    So I guess my question for the ACP is : what are realistic demands and how do you unify to fulfil them?

  8. I’m with Lyodd on this one. Whether we like it or not, Tony Flannery has come to represent the freedom of thought and speech for Catholics everywhere, certainly in Ireland. While it would be possible to have a cosy new relationship while leaving him as the unspoken scapegoat on the outside, I think it would be meaningless. The Irish Catholic bishops need with a unified voice, to take up Tony Flannery’s case with the CDF. In doing so they speak up for the freedom of conscience of all Catholics. And they can do so because they are the true leaders of the Church, not the civil servants who make up the CDF.

  9. Joe O'Leary says:

    I am happy at this step toward dialogue — and indeed thousands of such steps must be taken in order to replace a culture of fear and avoidance with one of open discussion.
    Catholicism used to be a very absorbing and enjoyable religion. The piety of baby boomer’s parents infused their lives with a powerful sense of purpose and significance.
    The same could happen again if our communities went for the most enjoyable things (in liturgy, scriptural and theological culture, creative social enterprises, and — if this is not asking for the moon — ecumenical and interreligious dialogue). Our craven clinging to liturgical routine and our fear of spicing up our Gospel with real questioning and human honesty (missing the existential subtleties of the New Testament) makes our churches somewhat difficult to relate to.
    Let bishops and priests everywhere talk as freely with each other and with the laity as people at an ACP or ACI meeting do and the ground will be prepared for allowing the talents of all — pastoral, spiritual, theological, musical — to flourish so as to show forth the joy of the Gospel.

  10. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Joe @ 9, this is a flowery statement but I couldn’t disagree more with your opening statement. This culture that needs replacing doesn’t require a thousand steps. It requires careful action to regain its footing – the most important step is embracing “imagine if” in the writing of those who feel the need to explore possibilities within not only the church but its official teachings.
    “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?” This is the situation the Catholic Church is in right now with Tony Flannery. Tony has to adopt the “imagine if” philosophy if the ACP refuses to stand with him in unison. Getting him back to ministry is not a journey; it’s lucky to be a couple steps. The understanding of how God works is surely an irresistible force, is it not?

  11. I thought Joe put it very well. There is much to be done. As long as we are moving, and moving in the right direction.

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