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Statement on the Synod, Association of Catholic Priests

The Synod on the Family, begins in October. We are hopeful that something new may emerge from this Synod and signpost a better way of being pastoral and of being Church.
The Questionnaire, sent out from Rome, in preparation for this Synod, was unexpected, very different and new. ACP can claim to have helped to stir up a Response to that Questionnaire which seemed unlikely to happen until our intervention. We were critical of the language in the questions but were pleased that at least an attempt was made, to listen to the views and experiences of families in the Irish Church and in the World-wide Church.
What now? We ask that whoever attends the Synod from Ireland will speak directly and honestly of the experience of family life (and all versions of what describes family today), here in Ireland. We hope that all attendees will participate fully and not with deference to the curial administration or to what is assumed, Pope Francis might wish to hear.
We are very much in agreement with the views expressed by the Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, and hope that such views will be heard at the Synod. Many who attended previous Synods found themselves overwhelmed by the methodology used and often concluded that their presence was irrelevant and unnecessary. We are hopeful that this may change at the October Synod and future Synods.
The debacle of the New Missal needs to be in the mind of those who are present at the Synod. The New Missal was ill conceived and should never have been accepted by the Hierarchies throughout the world. The language was very wrong and every rule of translation was disregarded. The theology was also archaic and the Missal was unfit for Liturgy. The College of Bishops (in Ireland) haven’t as yet said: ‘We were wrong. We made a mistake. We are sorry.’ The Leadership in the Irish Church needs to learn from such a major blunder. No other official document can be allowed to emerge from Rome or from a Synod, which is foreign to what we know to be appropriate in our Church and suitable for the people of our Church. We expect our Bishops to speak for their local Churches and to really know their people.
Pope Francis has spoken bluntly and directly of working together (collegiality) as Church. He has challenged Bishops to a new model of leadership. We believe that this process (of shared leadership) has to be very obvious in the forthcoming Synod. We further believe that we cannot ask of Francis and Rome that this should happen with them, unless a similar way of working and leading, is evidenced in our own local Church.
We ask these questions:
• What does it mean that Parish Pastoral Councils ‘advise’ the Parish Priest? (What is the experience of those who serve on Councils?)
• What does it mean that Priests’ Councils ‘advise’ a Bishop? (What is the experience of those who serve on Priests’ Councils’)
• What does it mean that a Synod ‘advises’ the Pope? (What is the experience of those who have attended previous Synods?)
• What is meant by collaboration/team work/ shared leadership in these situations or generally in our local Church and in the wider Church?
How the verb ‘advise’ is understood, will shape the evolution of the Church in the years to come. The local Church cannot speak of Clusters or Team ministry or shared responsibility in decision- making unless a new model of leadership is accepted. We pray that the Synod will illustrate what Communion means and pray that some of the unrealised vision of Vatican 2 can now be activated.
Seamus Ahearne, Gerry Alwill, Brendan Hoban, Gerry O Connor, Sean McDonagh.

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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Few questions myself :
    -Is the Pope willing to entertain a worldwide parishioner vote on current Church issues regarding priestly celibacy and the ordination of women?
    -If not, how many Roman Catholic signatories would it take on a petition for him to consider it?
    -According to the Vatican, is Canon Law, positive law?
    -If it is so important for positive law to prescribe to natural law, then why does Canon Law fail?
    -Could this be the reason for the current “crisis” in the Church?

  2. Synod is so irrelevant. Packed with bishops. Questions of communion for divorced and remarried irrelevant. That is no longer relevant in parishes where all are welcome to receive. Pope Francis completely stymied. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including same sex parents who won’t even merit a mention at the synod. With no disrespect to +Diarmuid is he the person to represent Ireland at a synod on the family? ?.?

  3. The headline for the Vatican Notebook article (Catholic Herald, 12th September) reads as follows:- “Church leaders hope for early end to Communion debate”. There is a real problem in regard to Communion for the divorced and remarried laity. This is particularly important in the case where there is an innocent spouse. The innocent should never be penalised or refused the Eucharist. That was Our Lord’s position on the matter when He reaffirming the position that divorced people who remarry are adulterers EXCEPT IN THE CASE OF UNCHASTITY.(Matthew:19, 8-10). These innocent laity are suffering now and this is a serious situation that must be addressed in the forthcoming Synod, further delays to address this situation are frankly not Christian. A Vatican official is quoted as saying “people he knew are certainly wishing this issue is closed as it is distracting from the focus of the Synod”. This comment from a Vatican official shows that progress on removing this current ongoing injustice may not get the attention it richly deserves.

  4. Adrian Grenham says:

    DOM – I am sure you are aware that there is an amount of debate on Matthew’s ‘get-out’ clause, and that such a clause (or intent) is not repeated elsewhere in the Bible (Mark, Paul etc) when marriage is mentioned. While it is important that no member of the Church feels (or is) excluded, we are also instructed that “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery”.

  5. Bob Hayes says:

    Lloyd (no. 1), aside from the enormous practical logistics of organising ‘a worldwide parishioner vote’, what many seeking change in the Church seem to overlook is that two-thirds of Catholics live in the developing world where white, metropolitan anxieties are of little or no interest to the faithful.
    What do you imagine would be the outcome of ‘a worldwide parishioner vote’ on the Church’s teaching about homosexual genital acts? I suspect the wording of the Catechism on the subject would be seen as comparatively benign.

  6. Joe O'Leary says:

    But didn’t Paul give us the Pauline Privilege. The Church is actually quite divorce-friendly, if you consider the Petrine Privilege as well.

  7. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Bob @ 5 – “white metropolitan anxieties” and “enormous practical logistics” might show your age a little there. I live on the eastern-most corner of the continent of North America in one of the only African Canadian neighborhoods you can find within 600 kms; not to mention the largest city in our area holds 24K people. The 2/3rd that you refer to in South/Central America are those people who need married priests the most – often their parishes see their own priests only a few times a year. They are community driven and not out of choice, out of necessity. Perhaps this why Francis’s ideas appear to be so “progressive”.
    I think the worldwide “synod” or “poll” as I call it would reflect the ACP’s findings. Perhaps fewer people seeing the need to open women to ordination in South/Central America due to cultural differences. Homosexuality and religion have collided violently on occasion. It is always true we fear what we don’t know. Recently, a man in Canada was tested for “gayness”. The tests were conclusive. Just like a lie detector test. Something like this in the hands of the Roman Catholic Church would be a terrible thing don’t you think? The reform we all agree on is that which leads to more rights for the individual no matter what their vocation or sexual preference. Don’t be surprised if groups should arise who call for the testing of priests. This is new technology but science agrees it works quite well.

  8. Joe O'Leary says:

    “What do you imagine would be the outcome of ‘a worldwide parishioner vote’ on the Church’s teaching about homosexual genital acts? I suspect the wording of the Catechism on the subject would be seen as comparatively benign.”
    It is true that there is a deep darkness in people’s minds. Just two days ago I heard a Frenchman muttering about someone in an internet café, “He’d better give up that homo business and become a man” — this sort of talk is common in France, the land of the Enlightenment — the world and the church have a long way to go.

  9. Ned Quinn says:

    Green Shoots in Killaloe.
    Bishop Kieran O’Reilly having “listened very carefully to the observations and concerns raised – has decided to not now proceed with the introduction of the permanent diaconate at this time in the diocese.”
    At last – an Irish bishop has listened to the “advice” of his people. And what’s more, that advice came from the catholic women of his diocese. Will other bishops follow his pioneering example?

  10. Association of Catholic Priests says:

    I am writing to share some concerns that may be of interest in the forthcoming synod of bishops.
    The “Theology of the Body” of St. John Paul II can provide a solid basis for solving the most pressing issues of sexuality and human ecology, both in the family and the whole human family as well as in the church as a family, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
    Jesus never identified himself as a patriarch. The spousal (sacramental) love of Christ for the church is not intrinsically patriarchal.
    Jesus Christ is head of the church because he is God and our Redeemer, not because he is male. The exclusively male priesthood is an option, not a dogma (CIC 1024, CCC 1598). The church does have the authority (the power of the keys) to ordain women as soon as Peter decides it would be for the glory of God and the good of souls.
    The patriarchal era is passing away. Let us pray that all Christian churches are able to discern the difference between patriarchal ideology and revealed truth.
    You can share this message with others who might be interested. Any comments would be appreciated.
    God bless you,
    Luis T. Gutiérrez

  11. Bob Hayes says:

    Sorry Lloyd (no. 7), I am unsure what points you are trying to make, aside from a swipe at what you perceive to be indicative of my age!
    Joe (no. 8), you make a very valid point about ‘deep darkness in people’s minds’ – providing a very good reason for the Church not to be governed by a democracy of ‘Catholic majority opinion’.

  12. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Bob @11 – the point I was trying to make was that your “white, metropolitan anxieties” swipe falls short in many ways. To organize such an event on behalf of 1/6th of the population of the planet could reinvigorate the Church on so many levels. Things that grow old do not have to lose touch with what’s current. That is a deliberate choice. If you think everything is right in your world based on the current model, then so be it. Not everyone is of that opinion, thankfully, and inclusion seems to be a trend these days. 20 years ago, had you asked my father what he thought about “gay folk”, he would have rolled his eyes, muttered something negative and kept on. Today, he is a changed man. Why? Because he opened not only his mind but his heart to something bigger than an opinion that was force fed to him when he was a child. This inclusion has made him a better person, but only if he believes in this inclusion in all aspects of life. It can’t be limited. Once you turn the love on, you can’t turn it off, right? Bob Hayes @11, the deep darkness in people’s minds that Joe @ 8 is referring to is exactly this lack of inclusion that I refer to; judging people. It’s not for any man of the cloth to judge, nor us for that matter, Bob, or do you have an exclusion from this statement?

  13. Association of Catholic Priests says:

    We are Church Ireland Press Release 16/09/14
    We are Church Ireland is extremely disappointed at the appointment of Sr. Margaret Muldoon of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux to join Dr. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin as the Irish representatives at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on ‘The Pastoral Challenges of the Family ‘ to be held in Rome 5-19 October 2014.
    It is extraordinary and outrageous that no Irish Catholic married family person will be present to offer their family lived experiences and advice to the Synod which is specifically charged to offer solutions to the grave challenges facing families in our contemporary world.
    Last April in conjunction with our colleagues in ‘We are Church International Movement‘ we requested the Synod Secretariat to accept Mary McAleese and Gina Menzies as very suitably qualified Irish representatives to the Synod. To-date we have not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement from the Vatican.
    The secretive selection process by which a Sister of the Order of the Holy Family of Bordeaux was selected as the Irish lay participant ignores the commitment give by Pope Francis ‘to involve all the People of God‘ in this Synod.
    I call upon Sr. Margaret Muldoon to turn down her invitation to the Synod in favour of a married family person, even at this late stage.
    Such an initiative would expose the unacceptable secretive selection processes that persists within the Catholic Church.
    Brendan Butler, We are Church Ireland
    Further information :
    Brendan Butler 086 4054984

  14. I wonder would Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Sister Margaret Muldoon like a crash course in natural family planning methods such as Billings and Rhythm and exactly why they do not work? I would be happy to go into the ins and outs of it all with them and I have all my baby charts for reference.

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