Gentle Reminder…Closing date for receipt of comments on ACP draft Synodal Pathway submission is TODAY – Monday May 10th…

Closing date for receipt of comments on ACP draft Synodal Pathway submission is

Mon May 10th 

Dear ACP Member

The Irish Bishops are inviting submissions on methods/models to be adopted before the Synodal Pathway consultation gets underway. They are seeking submissions of no more than 300 words, by 23rd May.

The ACP Leadership has prepared a draft submission and invites members to comment on it. Please note the parameters allowed in making the submission, as per the notice on the website of the Irish Bishops.

From the Irish Bishops website: Initial Submissions Easter to Pentecost 2021

Before embarking on the Synodal Pathway consultation, between Easter (5 April) and Pentecost (23 May), 2021, bishops are inviting submissions to reflect on what methods/models to adopt in these coming two years of conversations. For example: focus groups, questionnaires, deep-listening sessions; written submissions; family-focused gatherings; summary of findings of assemblies that have already taken place across dioceses; and/or conferences.

These submissions, in not more than 300 words, are not yet about the themes for the Synod but rather how to go about this phase of setting up the initial conversations.

Question: What would be your preferred option for engagement in a conversation process about the Synod?


ACP members are invited to submit their comments on the ACP draft Submission (see below) BEFORE Monday 10th May to

Members comments and observations will inform the actual ACP submission to the Irish Bishops Conference.


ACP Leadership Team

John Collins, Tim Hazelwood, Roy Donovan, Gerry O’Connor.


ACP Draft Submission:

Synodal Pathway – ACP ‘initial conversations’ draft submission


  1. The proposed task force – to be credible and effective – needs to stand its ground in a context that is very different to what has preceded this important, ground-breaking initiative. The ground rules are almost as important as the process itself which needs to take account of the present unease and distrust of traditional modes of authority underpinning the crisis in Irish Catholicism, the low morale, energy levels and number of priests, the ever-declining numbers of ‘practising’ Catholics and not least the problematic legacy of the child sexual abuse scandals.


  1. We are coming from an extremely low base and from an indisputable acceptance that what has worked before will not work now, and that for the Catholic Church to respond to its central purpose of spreading the Good News it will have to be a very different Church from what it was in the past.


  1. Key constituents of the process are: (i) respect (ii) realism (ii) credibility (iii) inclusivity (iv) an open agenda; (v) transparency; and (vi) ownership – all of which should be reflected in its leadership and its modus operandi. In delivering these, both reality and perception are important.


  1. In discerning what God wants of the Irish Church, we need to attract the engagement of people of faith, commitment and ability, but from a different gene pool from heretofore.


  1. It is crucial that parameters of time, conditions, agenda and strategy are not cast in stone or any other mechanism accepted that can be interpreted as controlling, ruling out specific areas or evidence that the conclusion has already been arrived at.


  1. The suggestions proposed to guide submissions – focus groups, questionnaires, deep-listening sessions; written submissions – all have their merits but repetition and unnecessary discussion need to be avoided.




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  1. Ger Hopkins says:

    We’re all very happy to see the outreach from the Bishops that marks the beginning of the preparations for the Synod. There is very little anyone could object to in the general principles of your proposed submission. It is good to note there is agreement on the Bishop’s practical suggestions.

    By asking for suggestions about how to gather input for the Synod, the Bishops are also inviting us to take a look at who makes up the actively involved Catholic Community in Ireland.

    And perhaps that might bring some to look more closely at the huge online community of young, enthusiastic and, to a man and woman, conservative Irish Catholics.

    The Brendan Option, Decrevi, Servants HM, Patricius Ministries on Youtube
    Siol Na hEireann on Telegram
    @CatholicArena on Twitter or
    Tim Jackson, Margaret Hickey, Ben Scallan and more on,,,, in UCD
    That’s a small fraction.

    Young (mostly), cutting edge, rock solid, down the line Catholic. And most of all there’s a real buzz about them.
    There’s a real energy. Some posting 10 times a day. A confident, unapologetic, vibrant community. Retweeted. Shared. Commented on. Involved in all the online arguments of the day.
    Fr. Brendan Kilcoyne is a rockstar. (Brendan might be getting on but the people behind his podcast are young. And they can’t get enough of Brendan.)
    On the street, at lockdown marches, people talk about being Catholic in a way that hasn’t happened in this country in years.

    It is growing like a bushfire.

    And in this world there is no desire being expressed for the ordination of women, ecumenism, Communion for the remarried, blessing of homosexual unions, any of it. Quite the opposite.

    I think the important thing to focus on here is that no one decided that the successful online message should be a conservative one. No one is in a position to.
    Instead, being subjected to the lightning fast evolution of online discussion – when every approach is being tried and tested – this is the message that succeeds. Why? Because in a virulently anti Catholic society any young person who wants to be a Catholic… wants to be a Catholic.

    No one decided the message should be this one and no one is in a position to change it. Nike, Coke and many many more spend millions on online communication and know that all they are able to do is ally themselves with a message, not change it.
    The alternative messages have already been tried. Pieces from The Tablet and National Catholic Reporter don’t gain traction. There aren’t any takers.
    We are left with the message that has won out in this crucible. Reality has dealt us this.


    I would like to offer my take on what this might mean for the members of ACP as they formulate their response to the Bishop’s Synodal request. (You can stop reading now if you like.)

    This website is a platform for many articulate, heartfelt and thoughtful attempts to diagnose the problems the Church faces in Ireland and their possible solutions

    I hope I’m not doing too much violence to these attempts if I condense them to
    A problem: It is imperative that the Church try to connect with young people. (And the not so young.)
    And a solution: The Church is failing to do so because of its message. A different message – involving ordaining women, communion for protestants and the remarried, blessing gay unions – would succeed.

    Here’s my point. I’m reluctant to make it because I think it will be a painful one to hear. I’m trying to make it as respectfully as possible:

    The reality, as described in the first part of this post, is that there actually is a message that is proving wildly popular with young people. It is very different to what has been embraced by ACP members as being the answer.

    It would seem there’s a choice.
    Do you put your energy in to facilitating and encouraging the next generation to practice their faith in the way they choose?
    Or do you continue to devote your energy to having the Church implement your favoured policies. Something you have worked towards and hoped for most of your adult lives.

    It seems you no longer have a problem and a solution, instead you have a dilemma.

    I understand your deep commitment to your favoured set of policies. It seems too much to change the certainties of a lifetime.
    But I also hope I’ve made it clear that thinking the answer lies in changing the views of the young online community and bringing them round to your own ideas represents a failure to understand the way that community comes to have those views in the first place.

    Your favoured policies are now actually the barrier to you communicating with young committed Catholics.

    What little can be done? I don’t know. Maybe something that sounds simple and trite but that I think in practice would be monumentally hard and asks too much: Listen to the other side.

    Can that need to listen be acknowledged in the ACP’s Synodal pathway submission?

    Can that listening happen at the Synod? Unlikely, but I’ll say a prayer.

  2. Hilda Geraghty says:

    Yes, indeed! Let all of us listen to the views of those we may disagree with. Through doing so, let’s do our utmost to avoid getting polarised into different camps, like American politics. It seems online activity greatly contributes to polarising people, and may even lead them to demonise each other. We must avoid this at all costs. The only way to do so is to keep our eyes on the Lord, and His command to “Love one another.” Never is this more important than at times of tension, as we seek ways forward. Although it may be hard, let’s try and keep together. “May they all be one!”

  3. Catherine Boylan says:

    Ger Hopkins has certainly given us lots of food for thought. What he says confirms for me my fear that we might have a generation of ‘young fogey’ priests, if priests come from these groups. Having grown up with Vatican II (I was in 6th year in school when it started), I find this prospect very sad.
    However the point I want to make is that we must listen to all young people including those who stop participating in the Church as well as to the group described above. The disaffected can tell us a lot about ourselves, priests and lay. We also need to avoid polarising different strands in the Church.
    Ger Hopkins says, ‘The reality, as described in the first part of this post, is that there actually is a message that is proving wildly popular with young people.’ Perhaps very popular with some young people, but not necessarily all.
    Let’s keep talking and praying.

  4. Sean O'Conaill says:

    To be serious about ‘mission’ is to want to understand and quantify those who are totally tuned out, and the lack of attention to this up to now in Ireland – via independent and objective research – is equivalent to knowing only the location of a new mission land without respectfully studying its culture – to discern and agree upon the reasons for its total lack of interest in what you have to offer.

    That porridge is proving ‘wildly popular’ with a claimed but unquantifiable trial cohort is meaningless without measurement and understanding of the porridge-averse – especially when queues for porridge among young people are extremely hard to find in most locales, even though all of our Catholic schools have been trying to form those queues for decades.

    We have had decades to do that independent research. Until it happens we will be reliant on personal networks for understanding of the issue – far from the best way to form a consensus. It is time at last for nettle-grasping – for researching, honestly and objectively, porridge aversion.

    Personally I have always loathed boiled oats, but cannot get enough of my own recipe for granola.

  5. Alan Whelan says:

    I would begin by asking for submissions from individuals, families, groups, parishes, deaneries, dioceses, etc, based on an A4 sheet SWOT analysis where each submission provides a list of 5 Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to our Mission as Church.

    In a spirit of Subsidiarity I would suggest that where possible these be collated at group, parish, deanery and diocesan levels so that local responses can be measured and acted upon.

    In all of this it would be useful for future planning to have analysis in terms of age, gender, extent of religious practice, etc.
    In the case of parishes and dioceses it would be most helpful if their last two pastoral plans could be evaluated in terms of measured achievements.

    In a spirit of transparency it would also be helpful if each organisation, parish and diocese could submit realistic accounts of their resources in terms of people power, buildings and finances. Catholic educational establishments should also be measured in terms of the same general criteria used by the Catholic Education Service in England and Wales.

    It would also be helpful to have full demographic data from parishes and dioceses in terms of measurable spiritual activities such as infant baptisms, adult baptisms, confirmations, Mass attendances, Communion numbers, marriages, etc
    Communication is essential for success. Living as I do in a diocese that lacks a diocesan newspaper I would ask that every diocese produce and widely distribute a monthly flyer containing national and local synodal news and fact gathering information leading up to and following on from the National Synod.

  6. Ger Hopkins says:

    What a warm reponse, thanks. Listening is always what’s called for, from all of us. But it’s hard. Especially when the time comes for it to be converted in to action.

    I get where you’re coming from with “young fogey” Catherine. But that phrase conjures up something lifeless and constrained. And the opposite is true.

    What works in online Catholicism is the primal and emotional.
    (There are some examples at the end of this post.)
    Rites and devotions rather than the written word.
    A lot of the things these young Catholics delight in are the things that others usually think of as stumbling blocks to ecumenism.
    A practical way of showing this community they were being listened to would be the promotion of popular devotions in the parish. Is that something that ACP members would find appealing?


    I think you are spot on when you focus in on “camps”, Hilda.
    All of our politics is now downstream from the mob rule and enthusiasms of Twitter. What matters on Twitter is immediacy and personal feeling and a tribal sense of belonging.

    This tribal element is very much a part of online Catholicism. In just the same way as it is very much a part of the online LGBTQ communities for example.

    In this context the ACP message that Church teaching needs to change or that the Church is failing is felt as an attack. In the same way that the LGBTQ communities may feel the Church’s teachings on “disordered sexuality” are an attack.
    If you are dealing with tribes any effort you make to include one is going to be perceived as an attack by the other. It’s a zero sum game.
    The desire to reach out to everyone is laudable but it’s hard to see how one goes about doing it in practice.

    In relation to online groups:
    The young online Catholics are very much here right now.
    On the other hand I haven’t come across active online Irish LGBT groups waiting for a change in Church teaching.
    I don’t see thriving online groups of young Catholics agitating for change from inside the Irish Church.
    I see small organised groups of older Irish Catholics holding infrequent scheduled events online. (Unlike CatholicArena say: posting frequently throughout the day or even being picked up and reposted within hours by tens of thousands around the world – as happened about two weeks ago).
    The young Twitter tribe version of We Are Church Ireland doesn’t seem to exist.
    What does the absence of all these groups say, if anything, about the idea that there is a deluge of new members waiting for the Church if it would only align its teachings more closely with secular society?

    Finally. In the current climate, we see that however institutions now behave and however they have adapted, they are not allowed to shake the guilt of their historical record. The internet recognises original sin but without the possibility of its erasure. If teachings were to be changed would even that be enough to absolve the Church in the eyes of those young people who describe themselves as alienated?


    Here’s a small flavour of what young Irish Catholics spend their days and hours lapping up (most are from CatholicArena twitter feed).
    These aren’t experienced with the head.

    Night Notre Dame Burned 2019

    Mens Stations of the Cross Warsaw last March

    Corpus Christi Hollywood 2019

    Corpus Christi Newry 2019

    Ave Maria, Passion of the Christ

  7. Joe O'Leary says:

    I think Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament should be much more available in our churches. It is perennially popular as a rare occasion for prayer and contemplation.

    Right wing Catholic sites such as First Things and Church Militant are hardly bastions of youth! Meanwhile New Ways Ministry seems youthful enough and has received signs of favour from the Vatican.

    No lgbt Catholics online agitating for change in church teaching? There are also no such groups agitating for change in teaching on contraception. That’s largely because the horse has bolted and no one takes those teachings seriously.

    If young Catholics are bored with oldies nattering on about the CDF it’s because they think it’s an out of date discussion:

    The devotionalism of the young is another matter, and should be taken on board (with due discrimination) as the Church has always done.

  8. Ger Hopkins says:

    Love what you say about Adorations, Joe. I presume you’d be just as happy with Corpus Christi Processions. (As well as everything else they’re a great second bite of the cherry for those who only show up for special occasions. Second outing for the Communion outfits.)

    What First Things and New Ways Ministry have in common is that they wouldn’t be there except that each has a source of funding and a paid staff.
    The new communities I’m talking about have *nothing* but the energy and commitment of a lot of independent actors along with commenters and followers on YouTube and Twitter and Telegram and everywhere else.
    Have a look at Decrevi, Servants HM or Patricius Ministries on YouTube for example.
    Two weeks ago CatholicArena tweeted a video of the Guards stopping the Confession in Athlone. By that night a howl had gone up from Dublin to Spain to Brazil to Poland. Thousands reposted it. Who knows how many saw it.

    I’m having a hard time understanding what I take to be your point about LBGT Catholics, Joe – that they are not being heard from, and are ignoring discussions about the CDF, because they have given up on looking for change.
    Being Catholic, if it means anything, is as much a part of their identity as being LGBT. I don’t see how they could just ignore the tension between their sexual identity and the teaching of their Church.
    (People who use contraceptives do so without seeing it as part of their identity. So it’s much easier to ignore the contradictions.)

    That Pew survey asked about acceptance of homosexuality rather than approval.
    The choice they offered was between acceptance or active discouragement. Seems an odd way of framing things.


    The ACP is interested in the voices of alienated and disaffected young Catholics.
    Some of them would be people who have given their faith a chance and then turned away. It may have been that having to defend the Church’s unfashionable teachings eventually turned them off or just wore them out.
    Some of them might initially have been drawn to groups such as those I mentioned before
    holyfamilymission*ie, youth2000*ie, focusoncampus*org for example
    Most youth organisations are heavily invested in finding the reasons members leave.
    Would it be worth your while contacting them and seeing what they’ve learned.


    In relation to the Synod: What if the Bishops were to make an explicit public appeal to high profile young conservatives for help in gathering opinion from the people they are interacting with.
    How would members of the ACP greet such an appeal from the Bishops. Welcome it? Be neutral but curious about what it would produce? Or other?


    It’s a real pleasure being able to talk about these things with people to whom they also mean a lot. Thank you.

  9. Paddy Ferry says:

    Ger and Joe, I am wondering if you have both read Derek Scally’s excellent new book, “The Best Catholics in the World.” I am nearly at the end of it now though I am deliberately going very slowly as I really don’t want it to end it is such an excellent read.

    Initially, I did not intend to get it as, from its title, I knew what it would be about and I have read so much already on that very subject I thought I knew it all.

    However, my know-all attitude was seriously misplaced I now realise because I really did not understand fully where we have come from and how we managed to arrive at the sad state of affairs we are now in.

    If you both read this book I don’t think you will then feel like wasting your time discussing the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Corpus Christi processions.

    Having said all that, I have a slight sense of unease that I may be missing a huge dollop of cynicism in your conversation.

  10. Paddy Ferry says:

    Ger and Joe, I have now read your complete conversation and realise there is certainly no cynicism on Ger’s part.

    Infact, forget all about green shoots, there is actually a revival that is “growing like a bushfire” !! My goodness !

    Ger, you really must read Derek Scally’s book as it contains a huge dose of realism which, I think, would be extremely helpful to you.

  11. Joe O'Leary says:

    I will never speak of eucharistic adoration with cynicism. It is an extension of the Eucharist, and it brings great graces.

    Now I looked at one of the sites recommended by Ger, an apologetic video about the Inquisition:

    Heresy wss dangerous, so it should be punished by death, to protect the unity of the church and of society and to restore those who had heretical notions back to communion with the church. Torture was part of the old Roman system and the secular world, but was never used by the Inquisition! Then he says that the church only allowed torture for 15 minutes. (No mention of the church pressure that forced France and England to use torture.)

    Only 826 deaths, just 30 a year, during a certain period of the Spanish Inquisition.

    But “I’m not for a single second advocating for any of this whatsoever.”

    “Without the Inquisition many, many more people would have been executed and tortured.” “It tried to instill justice, reason, and unity at a time when heresy and superstition drove communities and countries apart.”

    Speaker is a priest.

  12. Paddy Ferry says:

    Well said, Joe. (on the Inquisition)

    The record of the Inquisition would be embarrassing for any organisation; for our Catholic church it is truly devastating.

    Today, it prides itself, with much justification, on being the defender of natural law and the rights of man — not so sure about women!

    The papacy in particular likes to see itself as the champion of morality.

    What history shows is that, for more than six centuries without a break, the papacy was the sworn enemy of the most elementary of natural justice.

    Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the flawed theology and apparatus of Inquisition.

    On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches on the workings of this deadly machine. And, of course, they were all infallible on matters of faith and morals!

    I will always be grateful to Peter De Rosa and his excellent book, Vicars of Christ, for giving me my first glimpse into the sordid history of our church.

    The historian, Henry Charles Lea, in his history of The Inquisition in the Middle Ages, wrote: “It (the Inquisition) introduced a system of jurisprudence which infected the criminal law of all the lands subjected to its influence, and rendered the administration of papal justice a cruel mockery for centuries .. ……The judgement of impartial history must be that the Inquisition was the monstrous offspring of mistaken zeal, utilized by selfish greed and lust of power to smother the higher aspirations of humanity and stimulate the baser appetites”.

  13. Ger Hopkins says:

    Just one sentence about Fr. Bill O’Shaughnessy’s Inquisition video, Joe and Paddy, and I’m done with the subject. What he says is a good summary of the modern scholarship of Kamen, Monter, Tedeschi and others made possible since the Inquisition’s records became available in the last 20 years – respectable history if not a consensus view yet.

    “Speaker is a priest”. A young inspirational Priest (ordained 2017) with a load of energy, fighting the good fight in Springfield and Jobstown. And one of the people behind and also Holy Family Mission who I’m sure you know (Did you see them on Nationwide on Good Friday?)
    Look at them here
    Who can watch the young people in those videos and not feel inspired?

    These two (overlapping) groups have a particular focus on Eucharistic Adoration. So some common ground Joe?
    Maybe Fr O’Shaughnessy might be worth a second look. With any luck you might have a chance to walk together a couple of years from now.

    There’s no mistaking how much you’re getting out of Derek Scally’s book, Paddy. I’ve read some extracts myself. You call it “an excellent read” and “a huge dose of realism”. But is it inspiring? Would it encourage any of the young people in the videos above? Would anything in it encourage the newly confirmed to stay with the Church?
    But then misery lit seems to be a hugely popular genre, so what do I know.

  14. Joe O'Leary says:

    Gung-ho apologetics about the Inquisition is fundamentally reprehensible. Remember John Paul II on “purification of memory” and the act of repentance of Ash Wednesday 2000.

    The Spanish Inquisition alone committed 3-5,000 murders (the last being that of an inoffensive schoolteacher, Cayetano Ripoli in 1826, after the Inquisition had been shut down and then re-opened due to Vatican presssure).

    But the institution had many other punishments, and created a climate of fear, servility, and hypocrisy. Its damage to Spanish culture and intellect cannot be measured, but its damage to the Gospel goes even deeper, since it remains a huge scandal.

    To give a lecture on the Inquisition is a task that demands great expertise, since the topic is so complex. When the lecture is in a religious context, the difficuties are multiplied, and cannot be dealt with responsibly by pious bluster. Fr O’S uses history as recycled through conservative outlets, and his remarks on torture suggest a lot of confusion about the facts. He should reflect more carefully on the reality of sin and error in our Christian past.

  15. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe, you continue to provide us with learned and scholarly input in these discussions on some of the major and troubling issues for our Catholic Church. We all should be grateful to you for that. I am sure there are other scholars who could provide similar input but they don’t.
    One of the great positives of having this site is that every so often there is an outbreak of genuine learned debate which you , Joe, — and very often Sean too, —- are at the centre of and we should all be thankful to you for that.

  16. Paddy Ferry says:

    Ger, I accept you now want to put this discussion to bed and I respect that.

    However, there are just a couple things that I would like to clear up to my own satisfaction and understanding.

    Are you presenting as a positive thing the fact that these enthusiastic, young, right wing Catholics don’t give two hoots about ecumenism, gender equality, LGBT rights and things like that?

    Also, you are lauding young Fr. O’Shaughnessy. Yet, the man tries to defend the Inquisition, one of the greatest sins against humanity in the history of humanity as Joe and I have tried to explain.

    You call him a young, inspirational priest but I think his position on the Inquisition probably negates everything else about him. It certainly would for me.

    No, I suppose Derek Scally’s book is not something that would “inspire” people to return to the faith. But, Ger, we should get ahead of ourselves here. Before we can start thinking about inspiration for the future we must surely look at the background history and errors that led to our flawed Irish model of Catholicism ultimately being such a disaster.
    I think Derek has done a pretty good job at looking in depth at all the issues and trying to answer all the questions honestly some of which never really occurred to me to ask.

    When we look to the future just giving more of the same of what went before will just not do. Corpus Christi processions and Eucharistic Adoration will certainly not do the trick.

    I have a real interest, a vested interest I would say, in this debate, Ger, because like some many Irish people I, despite never being ordained, spent much of my life committed, devout and pious in the cause of the church. I still do commit a lot of my life to the cause of the church but have lost a lot of the other two qualities.

    So, I am grateful to Derek for continuing my enlightenment.

    I hope we all join him on Zoom this Friday evening.

    Good night and God bless, Ger.

  17. Ger Hopkins says:

    I’d like to echo Paddy’s welcome for the learnedness of Joe’s contribution. It adds weight to Joe’s feeling that there are problems with Fr. O’Shaughnessy’s style. As I read it though, Joe, you only have one factual objection – namely about the numbers killed in the Spanish Inquisition. Modern scholarship, based on relatively recent access to the Inquisition’s records, challenges these numbers. But Fr. O’Shaughnessy does a much better job than I could of outlining that challenge and its consequences for our understanding.

    Maybe Fr. Gerard Quirke’s style might be more accessible. For any who don’t know him already he’s the PP on Achill, ordained in 2018.
    He has been vocal about not agreeing with the restrictions on Worship during lockdown. Giving voice to it in local newspapers and radio. And then pointedly saying an Easter Mass at a penal-day Mass altar. Used for the first time in living memory.
    Beautifully filmed here
    There was an article in National Review in the US about it.

    But who is he? Here’s something filmed by Immaculata Productions (who do Fr. Brendan Kilcoyne’s “Brendan Option” on Youtube).
    I’d advise you to be sitting down when you watch it. It’s just Wow.

    (As far as the discussion here goes I am simply drawing attention to the fact that there appears to be no audience or demand for “ecumenism, gender equality, LGBT rights and things like that” among the broader community of young committed Catholics. It might be fruitful to wonder why that is and what it means.
    I’ll reply later, Paddy, to your comment on Derek Scally’s book)

  18. Joe O'Leary says:

    I didn’t argue with Fr O’S about numbers. At one point he says that just 10 a year were executed for 220 years. That makes a total of 2,200 for that period. At another point he talks about 826 deaths, just 30 a year, for one period. So he does not seem to be too far from the commonly given 3-5,000 number for the entire span, which I cited.

    From the Church’s perspective today these were all (objectively) judicial murders whatever good intentions (subjectively) the inquisitors held.

    Fr O’S. seems to think that coercing heretics back into their sober senses is a good thing. Is that the image of the Church we want to encourage ardent young Catholics to absorb and propagate 56 years after Dignitatis Humanae?

  19. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Quirky indeed, Ger@18. But at least he has the smell of Achill’s sheep about him. Two beautiful videos, I must say.

  20. Ger Hopkins says:

    Hi Joe, I believe Fr O’Shaughnessy was referring to Henningsen and Contreras trawl of the Inquisition’s records that yielded a total number of 826 handed over by the Spanish Inquisition to the state for execution over the course of 160 years. (Where’d we be without Wikipedia.) His “30 a year” was just bad sums.
    He doesn’t source his other 10 a year figure. Even then it’s a fair way off 5000 and the millions of popular imagination.
    (17 people were executed in the US in 2020, 22 in 2019. Just appalling.)
    His point is that the internet shortcut of invoking the Spanish Inquisition to show the Church is a cruel and backwards Institution doesn’t stand up well. Especially compared to Protestant countries at the time.
    I’d have to say “Fr O’S. seems to think that coercing heretics back into their sober senses is a good thing.” is a pretty unfair characterisation. Especially when you seem to suggest it is being offered as a message for today.

    I haven’t read Derek Scally’s book, Paddy. All I know about it is a chapter that was excerpted in the papers and a radio interview. So I amn’t in a position to comment on the meat of his book and I do place a lot of store in the opinion of someone who has read it and found it very useful.

    I guessed Paddy, and you agreed, that the book would not inspire people to return to the faith. Do you think that Derek himself is looking to promote or encourage the faith?

    His book is one of many recent books on Irish Catholicism highlighting the errors and the perceived errors of the Church. And in that it wouldn’t differ much from nearly all of the coverage RTE gives the Church and most of the coverage in the IT.

    For a number of years now this criticism has been echoed and added to by prominent Irish Catholic voices. Who would have been regularly heard from on RTE and in the IT back when those old media outlets controlled the narrative.

    The Church was dominant in this country as recently as the eighties. And given that situation it struck many, quite reasonably, that the best way to make the Church more accessible and less daunting was to soften that dominance, emphasise the doubt, acknowledge the failings. A very obvious, very intuitive approach to have taken back then.

    And now that the Church is weak? And its dominance is no longer an issue? Not surprisingly most younger people have returned to the more natural idea – that the best way to spread the message of the Church today is to defend and promote the institution that serves it.

    Is it time for champions of the earlier approach to reappraise things in light of the Church’s current standing? Or is there any point in even asking that question? Is it really possible for any of us to make a change in outlook that profound, regardless of how circumstances have changed?

    I was thinking of quoting Max Planck and his view of how institutional change happens but probably much more appropriate is:

    “The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils Himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.”

  21. Joe O'Leary says:

    It’s not just enemies of the church who fret about the Inquisition, and indeed about the long record of executing pagans and heretics since Theodosius. That would be like saying it’s only enemies of the church who fret about the sex abuse scandal. In school we were all reassured that it was not the church but the secular arm that tortured, imprisoned, and executed heretics, but today we have another script offered by the church, in dialogue with the state, which stresses the sacredness of religious freedom and the rights of conscience and which uses the sites of the Inquisition (for instance, the prison in Seville, now presented as a monument to those values) as an occasion for macnamh, collective repentance, and purification of memory.

    I see a Vatican historian put the death toll for the Spanish Inquisition as low as 1,250 and the number of heresy trials at 125,000.

    But what a terrifying tip of the iceberg to see people burnt at the stake for thought crime, an image that the church managed to imprint in peoples’ minds first as a warning, and then as a brand of its own indelible shame. Queen Mary had a mere 300 “heretics” burnt during her reign, but the scandal remains. (She was the wife of Philip II, whose involvement with inquisitors is immortalized by Schiller and Verdi. No black legend there.)

    No one needed to inflate the numbers, the supply of martyrs was ample, and provided edification for centuries thanks to John Foxe.

    I look with suspicion on apologist historians such as Eamonn Duffy, “Fires of Faith”, who calmly tells us that if Mary had succeeded, England would have remained Catholic, and with definite intimations that that would have been a jolly good thing. Fr O’S is fishing in the same troubled waters.

    (I was once berated as a “Catholic masochist” by a Vatican monsignor, who also informed me that not that many Jews had died in the Holocaust.)

    Thanks, Ger, for the videos of Fr Kilcoyne, gripping and challenging. I hope he is an ally of the AIP.

  22. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe@22, are you being serious about the “gripping and challenging” bit ?

  23. Joe O'Leary says:

    Paddy, he’s a Curé de Torcy, and he voices what many priests and laity feel as they see their church evaporate. And he does speak from tradition and even Scripture even if some of his crusades are Quixotic.

  24. Phil Greene says:

    Re .#24. . Can’t help wondering how many men and women watch with the mute button on I’m afraid ..

  25. Ger Hopkins says:

    I’d love to hear more about Fr Kilcoyne as a Curé de Torcy figure, Joe. Is that how he comes across to you? It sounds like it should be insightful.

    For those who don’t know him Fr Brendan has an increasingly popular YouTube series “The Brendan Option” uploading a few times a week.
    and has been involved in youth ministry
    and a lot of other things.

  26. Paddy Ferry says:

    Joe@29, I have to say I simply do not understand the purpose of saying mass on his own on top of a mountain in Achill — though the scenery was beautiful. Are people supposed to be inspired by that?

    I find the spectacle of priests and bishops complaining about the present limits on the freedom of public very disheartening. In fact, it is embarrassingly infantile. Whatever happened to the concept of the common good. Brendan Hoban has written excellent articles on this unfortunate phenomenon. Now that’s the Brendan Option that I would take.

    Is it even permissible in church law to do that, celebrate mass on your own? Francis has recently clamped down on the practice in the Vatican.

    Certainly St. Augustine would not have approved, no community around the altar therefore no Holy Communion.

  27. Joe O'Leary says:

    Fr Kilcoyne is eloquent on the Little Way. I find that whenever I open Ste Thérèse I stumble on a statement that sets me thinking and praying, and sometimes is even mind-blowing. I dread to read her right through for fear the magic would crumble. I invited a friend to a theology group where we were discussing her writings, fearing she might scoff at them, but on the contrary she said, “Thérèse speaks from eternity”. O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort! Catherine Cornille, doyenne of Comparative Theology, frequently points out that humility is the very heart of Christianity, the lift that takes us to the top so that we don’t need to clamber up the troublesome stairs. (But when Fr K. quotes St Escriva…. brrr!)

  28. Joe O'Leary says:

    The mass on the mountain stunt is cringeworthy, but that is not Fr Kilcoyne, a very different person, a kind of classical Maynooth priest, albeit from the “John Paul priest” batch who are now old men like their predecessors.

    Fr K. is wrong about the Covid crackdown, but unfortunately many of the great and the good are so too, such as Archbishop Eamonn Martin and our own Padraig McC. His rhetoric about the state grinding the church’s faith with its boot is wildly OTT, and in this regard he does not show the sane balance of Bernanos’s Curé de Torcy (not to be confused with the otherworldly Curé d’Ambrecourt).

  29. Joe O'Leary says:

    Fr Quirke’s mountain ritual is sabotaged, as all Masses in English are, by the horrible translation: “and even the heavenly powers” which is a mistranslation for “the heavenly powers also (etiam)”, “exalted with paschal gladness,” “or they offer it for themselves,” “defended by your protecting help,” “this oblation of our service,” “we laud you yet more gloriously,” “acclaim: Holy, Holy, Holy” which is ungrammatical, “we make humble prayer and petition,” “overcome with paschal joy,” “serene and kindly countenance.”

    As regards the restrictions on worship, is it really a telling point to say that it is less strict in other countries? Could the same not be said of the restrictions on drinking in pubs?

  30. Ger Hopkins says:

    On the mountain the Lord provides… a new way of reaching people in tune with the way they live today.

    I’m not looking to discuss lockdown so I’ll leave it at this:

    When you talk about the common good, Paddy, I’m presuming you mean that part of it relating to public health.
    We were supposed to believe it was public health science – measurable and quantifiable data feeding mathematical models – that dictated that Irish Churches had to remain closed for Worship. At times when the science in nearly every other country in the world said their Churches could remain open.
    Where else does Irish science differ from the rest of the world? Gravitational constant? The Irish speed of light?

    In truth our Churches were shut because that reflected the values of those in authority to whom we have deferred over the last year. In their own language “Worship is not an essential activity”.
    Unless there really is a special Irish Science.

    It was those value based judgements that Fr Quirke was pointedly opposing by saying Mass at the penal times altar on the mountain top.
    His act of defiance went around the world. It was picked up by National Review among many others. Fr Quirke risked censure. He went against the flow. He incurred a cost for what he believed in. And people always find that inspiring.

    Not sure about “embarrassingly infantile”, “cringeworthy stunt” or whether it’s a great idea to be comparing the celebration of the Eucharist with going for a pint.

    P.S. I’m begging you now Joe. Please expand on Fr Kilcoyne as the Curé de Torcy!

  31. Joe O'Leary says:

    “Ger Hopkins” is a pseudonym, right?

    From the viewpoint of the health crisis, pubs and churches are the same, both hot spots for spreading infection. That’s not a matter of hard science, but of soft science (which is also science), or rather of common sense observation.

    Other countries have had to crack down on church services, for instance:

    As to the Curé de Torcy, if I remember correctly, he is a man of order in a clerical church that is still robust. Fr Kilcoyne is addressing a church in crisis and is calling for spiritual conversion. He has a good video on prayer, and I’d like to add to his cluster of references a dictum of Proclus, the Neoplatonist: “We are always praying in the depth of our soul.
    A bit more reference to Scripture would enhance it.

  32. Joe O'Leary says:

    It’s all a bit blustery. “Subvert the rules of the conversation so that we can have a conversation.” “It will be quite some time before we can build up a more systematic approach.” I’d say the spailpín fánach stunt will quickly run out of steam. Guerilla agitation doesn’t really do much for an ailing church.

  33. Ger Hopkins says:

    And here we are Joe, discussing Father Brendan’s latest video. The community growing, one new voice at a time.
    Welcome to the dark side.

  34. Joe O'Leary says:

    Fr K certainly has a charism and if he uses it to build up community, and the wider body of the church, then that will be a gaisce mór deserving our gratitude.

    The infinite divine Spirit is multifariously at work everywhere. Let’s not quench it.

  35. Ger Hopkins says:

    What a gracious comment Joe.
    I get a lot of hope from the fact that our Church has people in it like yourself.

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