Northern Regional Meeting – Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny, Tues 11thSept 2018.
Chair: Brendan Hoban – 21 priests present.
Introduction by Brendan Hoban: meeting with Archbishops D Martin and E Martin – met us after we always claimed bishops wouldn’t meet us. We need a specific agenda – reform. We reject meetings for ‘box-ticking’ – of no value to ACP. There are some good bishops who listen and support – we need to reassure them. People are drifting because there are no good church leaders. People want a reformed church like the Pope but most bishops are not allowing discussion. Note, no one has been called to Rome for speaking about celibacy and women priests under Pope Francis!
Meeting open to the floor.
- We over presume Sunday Mass will feed people’s faith. People stop going to Mass because they get nothing out of it, not because they have lost faith.
- We need to empower a new generation of people.
- We don’t need to be loaded down with guilt for what is, should have been or could have been! We can’t do it anymore. And we cannot let priests block progress. Difficult, because we think we matter most!
- General absolution – prepare for it and invite people along. Great renewal in the sacrament of reconciliation. We need to respect people and support general absolution. Many have moved on from the confession box and the notion of sin versus a loving God.
- A disconnect between sacraments at school and later years. Sacraments are too much of ‘an event.’ What is the result of 40 years of Catholic education? None!
- How can an ailing clergy preach the Gospel in an ailing church in a secular world?
- Disconnect between bishops and priests, from the early priests association to the NCPI, but ACP set up BY priests FOR priests. We’re ‘radical’ because we wrote the agenda!
- Silence of leadership is scandalous – why do bishops fear priests and vice versa? Priests tend not to be fully truthful with bishops.
- We have no idea what goes on at the Bishops’ Meetings in Maynooth! There’ll be twice as many bishops there as students for the October meeting!
- Bishops should welcome the ACP with enthusiasm. Nothing from bishops since the Pope’s visit!
- Brainwashed by church structures – needs a complete overhaul.
Care of Priests:
- Reasonable to retire at 70 – after 45 years service. Gardaí retire at 52!
- Priests manipulated to work beyond 75 (retirement age for majority) – that’s a form of elder abuse.
- Example: Priest of 72 who had to retire due to ill health was told he was too young to retire. He was given a small stipend rather than a pension and lives in the family home.
- Dread to think how priests who haven’t saved will survive.
- Bishops determine everything about us so we fear alienating them.
- Dioceses need to get together to agree proper retirement terms for priests. You don’t want to be at the mercy of a man who is being more of an accountant than a bishop.
- We all need to take responsibility to challenge unfair practices in dioceses. No proper provision for priests as they get older.
- When priests are appointed bishops a gap develops – how do we bridge that gap?