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Pope Francis has taken on board what the ACP stands for

The forthcoming AGM of the Association of Catholic Priests is an opportune
moment to reflect on the importance of the Association in the life of the
Irish Church and their contribution to the wider Church at a time of
profound questioning and change of direction now spearheaded by Pope Francis
himself. The founding of the Association was inspirational and, with
hindsight, providential. It stepped into a leadership vacuum when ordinary
people and priests were floundering in uncertainties, besieged on all sides
by unspeakable problems from the past and the necessity of pastoral
adaptation to the new realities of modern Ireland. Every human crisis brings
new solutions and new leadership. The Association stepped into the breach
and for that we are all very thankful. It can only be the work of the Holy
Spirit fulfilling the promise of Jesus that He would always be with us, in
His own time and in His own way. Brendan Hoban and his team have given hope
when there was little hope, given answers when there were no answers
forthcoming and gave direction when people were lost in a fog of distrust,
even self-doubt. Were it not for them Fr. Kevin Reynolds would have had his
head spiked on the castle gate, abandoned and without any possibility of
clearing his good name. That was a watershed moment, a turning point in the
witch hunt that has taken possession of the media. They showed competence
and agility when both were needed. Most of all they were able to read the
signs of the times and interpret the mood of people on all sides of the many
In retrospect their role is now so very clear in preparing Ireland for the
changes that were coming down the line, as radical as they were unexpected.
Vatican 2, with all that that implies, is back on track. Everything the
Association stood for and defended in the face of official opposition, very
often not too subtle, has now been taken on board by Pope Francis and his
new team. I hope we will never again see the word ‘dissenter’ used to
denigrate people who simply want more dialogue in our Church.
We must all thank the Association for finally exploding a long established
myth that has not always helped the ordinary priest in his pastoral
endeavours, namely that the lower clergy were in the inner circle and that
only the laity were out in the cold. People are now aware, as never before,
that the lower clergy were regarded as ‘nobodies’ and that decision-making
was the prerogative of the crony club, which operated at various levels.
Finally I feel very proud to be a member of the Association and follow at a
distance their contribution to the Church we love, especially now in the new
dispensation. I feel equally blessed to have been ordained a priest 50 years
ago in the pontificate of John XXIII and to have helped a little over the
last 44 years to build up this Church in Latin America that has given us
Pope Francis.
Tony Conry (Brazil)

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  1. Margaret Trench says:

    Full credit to this and all the many associations of priests worldwide, who found their voice and their courage at a time when the church needed priests to be honest and to speak out.
    I firmly believe that this development of clergy claiming their right and responsibility to speak their truth and share their wisdom, had a significant bearing on the discussions among the cardinals prior to the selection of the present Pope.
    Most knew that we needed a new direction – pretending all was well was going no place –
    when loyal servants were standing out and saying we needed change, our leaders knew it was time to respond.
    Thankfully the Holy Spirit came to our aid and directed them to Jorge Bergolia.
    Deo Gratis.

  2. I agree one hundred percent with Tony. The ACP has been the only ray of hope in the Irish Church for a long time. With them I include also the ACI and the other lay organisations that have really tried to keep alive the spirit of Vatican Two. At a time when our church was under attack from all sides our leaders gave us no leadership, no compassion, no hope and no example of forgiveness.. They have been petty, subservient, and completely lacking in understanding of those priests who have tried so hard at local level to keep the light of faith burning in the hearts and minds of the Irish people. They have acted as spies and watchdogs trying to prevent individual people from expressing their understanding of Jesus and his teachings. Shame on them. Thank God for Pope Francis and associations like the ACP and the ACI. There can be no going back now. All things churchwise have changed and changed utterly

  3. Elizabeth Byrnes says:

    Deo Gratias, indeed, Margaret and to you Fr. Tony for your superb analysis of the ‘signs of the times’…..let’s hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will be allowed to flourish and live again in the Catholic Church.

  4. Mary O Vallely says:

    Many congratulations to Fr Tony Conry on celebrating 50 years as a priest! It is wonderful to read the hope and the optimism in your words above and I echo what Elizabeth @4 says too.
    May I please remind people that there is another forum, the Association of Catholics in Ireland. http://www.acireland.ie (you can click on to the logo at the side of this page) which has many interesting articles. You do not have to log in to comment and, after some initial problems, it is now very easy to access and to add your thoughts and opinions. It needs to be supported more so I encourage you to have a look and to add your comments.
    Thank you.
    Mary V 🙂

  5. Peter McCann says:

    The Blessed Eucharist has been, and is, the only ray of hope in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

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