The ACP & the Pope: Survey to close on 9 August

The ACP is conducting a survey ahead of the Pope’s visit. People are invited to submit their views on what the Pope should hear about the Irish Church. What do you think are the most important issues? All responses will be confidential and will form part of a presentation which the ACP hopes to make to the Pope later this month.
The ACP invite people to express their opinions by emailing

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  1. iggy o'donovan says:

    While Tony Flannery’s “exile in Siberia” continues a cloud looms over Francis’ papacy. if he cannot address that minor issue (though a huge one for Tony) all else rings hollow.

  2. Pól Ó Duibhir says:

    I agree with Iggy. Here is something Francis could fix if he had a mind to. Not rocket science.

  3. Niamh Lyons says:

    The Church has every right to oppose abortion in its teachings, although Pope Francis must surely realise he is now visiting a country on a secular path where those views clash with the majority of the Irish voting public. However it is unclear why the Church continues to oppose IVF treatment which has resulted in the birth of 5 million children worldwide over the past four decades. It’s an uncomfortable truth that many of these children simply would never had been born if Catholic couples allowed their faith to over-rule their desire to have a family.
    All families are worthy of the respect and recognition of the Church.

  4. Sarah Ni Phaidin says:

    Reaffirm the Church is pro-life for the secular, civic Catholics who support abortion and why the issue should be about the state, Church and families supporting pregnancy – that is women’s rights. 2. Sack the Bishops who moved abusive priests around and concealed abuse. 3.The female religious Orders in the Ryan report have never been sanctioned by the Church, women abusers are still religious and have been allowed to hide abuse and illegal adoptions.4. It’s very difficult to be a practising Catholic as a woman, we are excluded in every way, our very nature and life roles are being defined by men in the Church; even the Vatican Conference on women a couple of years ago excluded women! 5. Make the Irish Catholic church offer Communion under both kinds at every Sunday Mass – 50 years after Vat 2!

  5. Brendan Butler says:

    Iggy O’Donovan is right. Tony’ treatment at the hands of the cdf should be addressed as a central issue of Francis’s visit as it epitomises how the Vatican bureaucracy considers itself as a divinely appointed institution with authority to act with impunity without accountability to god or pope . Its main aim is to selfperpetuate itself without consideration of the harm it is inflicting on the people of god. We will have a lot of euphoric adulation during the visit but until a radical overhaul of the roman curia is achieved then a few cosmetic words here or some minor changes there will do nothing to stop further decline of our church.

  6. Mary Vallely says:

    Face up to the dishonesty and hypocrisy in the Church and admit that a great number of priests are homosexual, and that many of them are active. It is time to delete the unchristian language used to describe gays such as ‘ intrinsically disordered’ and to offer celibacy as an option in the taking of vows.
    Time also to admit that the Church has seriously discriminated against one half of the population and must allow women into all areas of ministry, especially of governance.
    The Pope must issue a sincere and fervent apology to all those who have suffered as a result of clerical sexual abuse and promise to root out abusing clergy and dismiss those who have covered up abuse. No second chances. Victims must be seen as a priority, not the reputation of the Church.
    All those clergy, religious and theologians who have been ousted, blacklisted, silenced and treated like lepers by the official Church must be given an opportunity to put forward their case and be treated like any other normal person with the right to a fair trial. This is one of the great injustices perpetrated by the CDF and behaviour which brings shame to all Catholics.
    The whole area of the Church’s teaching on sexuality needs to be re- thought as Humanae Vitae has been generally ignored and most priests are well aware that married couples are wise enough and experienced enough to to be able to discern what is best for them and their families.
    Many people are concerned that the WMoF will just turn out to be a ‘ holy show’ making those on the margins feel even more isolated. Single parents, LGBTI persons and families, former priests who left to get married etc; All are equal in the sight of God but not, it seems, in the sight of the ‘holy’ Roman Catholic Church.
    Most of us pray daily for the Pope, the bishops and all our priests as we recognise the huge sacrifices they have made on our behalf but the official Church must face up to the dishonesty so widely practised among its clergy and allow for proper continuous dialogue between lay and clergy working together to fulfil its mission.
    The Irish bishops must ensure that this dialogue will happen by creating opportunities to meet together and they badly need to show a little more courage and chutzpah.

  7. Peter Thorne says:

    The teaching body of the church is the Pope in union with the bishops with the sensus fidelium. Why was there not a conversation in the parish pastoral councils and parishes around the country in the many recent issues faced by the male clerical hierarchy?

  8. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Fair enough, Mary, I’m sure the gist of those eight ‘theses’ should be nailed to the Phoenix Park papal cross, in Spanish, Italian, Latin, English and Irish.
    Yet I find part of Thesis 1 problematic. I’m sure an open confession of dishonesty and hypocrisy would be good for the official Church’s soul, but linking an offer of optional (non)celibacy to homosexual or even heterosexual priests’ undoubted “activity” is hardly a Christian remedy for promiscuity or the sowing of sacerdotal wild oats, not to mention the frequent abuse of power roles and woman abuse or partner abuse involved. Optional (non)celibacy, if offered, would need to be compulsorily linked with a preferential option for monogamy, whether hetero- or homosexual. Church recognition of same-sex marriage, if only as a civil reality, would help.

  9. Phil Greene says:

    Well said Mary.
    I would love to say to the Pope, in his capacity as head of the CC –
    ” Women, paid and lay, (and good men too ) that normally support the parishes , are on strike – indefinitely- in Ireland , and the rest of Europe is thinking of joining them!
    Crass, perhaps …, but words coated with sugar , are still just words.

  10. David Rea says:

    The present Vatican process in cases “where an ethos of secrecy dictated that an accused individual wasn’t dealt with directly, didn’t know who his accusers were and didn’t even know when a process was initiated” makes me sad and disappointed.How can the institutional Church of Rome be a witness for justice in today’s world in the light of this.The cases of Tony Flannery, Iggy O’Donovan, Sean Fagan, etc make me wonder if the CDF is even capable of reform. The cowardly carry-on (viz. lifting the sanction on the man only when his health was broken) in the case of the late Sean Fagan would bring one close to despair. Discussion is needed on
    the ordination of women to the priesthood
    married priests
    fundamental reform of the CDF
    priests to follow the likes of Peer McVerry in addressing problems of homelessness, marginalisation, unemployment, disadvantage, poverty, etc
    raw unbridled clericalism to be challenged
    follow only the message of Jesus in the gospels
    above all, church ministers to be simply at the service of one and all
    Was it Cicero who kept repeating “Carthago delenda est”? I’m stopping short of applyng this to the Church of Rome, but am not far short of this.
    All I can do is keep praying for the conversion of Rome.

  11. Thomas Keane says:

    The Pope has to address many problems. The sexual abuse of many children down the years has to be looked at, and priest’s and bishops who knew what was happening should be asked to step aside from all sorts of ministry, kicking them out of the priesthood if needed and hand what information there is on these men over to the Gardai.
    The pope also has to look at the idea of married men becoming priests. After all St. Peter, the first pope we are told had a mother-in-law and maybe have lay female deacons serving in the churh as well as male lay deacons.

  12. Bernard Barrett says:

    There are many comments above, which as a lay theologian I would agree with.
    For me, the key points we should make to Francis, both about the Catholic Church in Ireland as well as elsewhere in the world are;
    1. We need to recognize that when God calls us, that call is to continued growth and development, not just personally but collectively. It’s been the case throughout the whole of salvation history and rather than respond to the shortage of priests by trying out new combinations of merging parishes and emphasizing the vocation of and need for new priests, what we and he need to recognise is that what is occurring is probably of God’s design (just as it was over two thousand years ago when the Good Lord walked the earth) and our role has to be to listen, discern and respond – not simply damage limitation, repair or maintenance of the existing order – it’s doomed to failure – and is!
    2. We need to get used to far fewer clergy, and consider that as we move forward, what God may want is a vision of the entire People of God working together, as espoused at the Second Vatican Council. This does not mean we do not require clergy, but rather we need a different type of priest and bishop to some of the ones we currently have – a role that enables and empowers (just as Christ did) – which in many respects is the essence of leadership – as opposed to administration and control. I realize that there are priests who attempt to live up to this ideal. We need to establish whether he shares such a vision and all it entails and how we can begin to support its realization.
    3. There does need to be a recognition of the incredible hurt that the institutional church has caused to so many. Yes, there are obvious examples such as those abused by clerics (which I appreciate are not representative of all clerics) – but there are many many other instances which go unreported and unrecognized which cause anger, resentment and have the potential – if not actually – to destroy a person’s entire life. While justice may be required, what is also important and fundamental are commitment to change in the power structures of the Church. Francis will require considerable spiritual support to challenge this, but we need to affirm that we want to see change and are behind moves to make these changes.
    4. We should inform Francis that we don’t really believe in false tensions in our society between the ‘secular’ and the ‘spiritual’. We are an open, welcoming, church and country and while the result of the recent abortion referendum and other events are deeply challenging to ‘traditional’ church teaching (even when some of it, historically speaking, is comparatively recent) it’s not a question of ‘us’ and ‘them’, or of the church being counter cultural. Rather it is a question of inculturation and respect for each other, and recognizing that the Church may have something to learn. Speaking as someone who works with a variety of Atheists and Humanists in my workplace – they respect me as a Catholic theologian – likewise I respect them and if they so wish, seek to understand their perspectives and why they have arrived at them. It’s amazing how much common ground there can be – and how there is far more practical Christianity from them than many Christians!
    5. Recognition of the equal role of women and how this should urgently be addressed in the Church. Let’s face it, women lead many of the earliest Christian communities and where they do so now, often do better than many men. There are plenty of fairly recent examples both in the UK and the US of women leading services as well as running parishes full time (which yes, you guessed it, have largely been suppressed) even if the documentary evidence is there. We want his commitment to equal opportunities for women in the Church and to the discernment of how women can once more fully contribute to the development of our faith moving forward.
    Probably in trouble now!

  13. Eileen Clear says:

    I add my voice to those calling for justice for Fr. Tony Flannery.
    I endorse the points articulated so well by Mary Vallely above #6.

  14. Mary Vallely says:

    Eddie @8, I remember, years ago now, writing to Cardinal Brady after a homily of his in our local St Malachy’s Church in which he forcefully condemned and denounced homosexuality in general. I do not remember now the context or why the subject, rarely ever spoken about in homilies, was the topic of the day. I wrote to him because I disagreed profoundly with his words and suggested that it was surely only right to encourage monogamous relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual in orientation. I had read and been moved to tears by so many examples of the most loving and tender relationships between a man and his partner dying of AIDS for example.
    The thought never crossed my naive mind that any priest would break his vow of celibacy, never mind indulge in promiscuity! Having spent three years as an Arts student in Maynooth (1969-72) I had assumed all those young men were as idealistic as myself and would not, could not, yield to the temptations of the flesh. We young women then were an innocent lot, straight out of convent schools and believed that vows made were sincerely kept.
    So, to the Pope I would say, be open about the impossibility for many ordained to live a life without a close emotional and/or sexual attachment. Some can live like this and they are to be deeply commended but it is far too difficult for many. Of course optional celibacy should be for those who intend trying to keep to a monogamous relationship, just as those of us who are married try to adhere to!
    Why did Pope Francis embrace Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the Chilean survivors of abuse, affirming him in his homosexual orientation, as one equally loved by God and then the next week tell cardinals not to allow gays into the seminary? What is he implying? That seminaries are predominantly full of gay men and that many of them are promiscuous?
    What matters one’s sexuality if a vow of celibacy is taken? This is the hypocrisy I mean and I do not understand it. Pope Francis is fully aware of the fact that priestly formation as it exists no longer works. Why pretend? The sooner they all waken up to the fact that single sex institutions are a breeding ground for illicit, immature behaviour and unnatural in this day and age when every organisation of any worth allows women to be equal with men, that gender/ sexual orientation is no longer a barrier, that women and men work best together, the better for that organisation. After all, Jesus, despite the restrictions against women in the time in which He came to earth, treated women equally. How little we have learned from Him. ?

  15. Cainneach O Bradaigh says:

    A Synod for the Irish Church facilitated by experts from outside the country both lay and clerical. People with a track record for respecting people and change. An interest from other parts of the Church to show us how important we are to each other. An end to a monarchical episcopate and its accountability to the Christian Community. Policies decided need to be evaluated and monitored with target reviews build in. Need for dioceses to act and work in the ways indicated by Pope Francis. Need for the giftedness of all the Baptised to be recognized. Church agendas too introspective need to reach out to real concerns, justice, and climate change.

  16. Mary Burke says:

    Cardinal Farrell is head of the Laity, Family and Life Dicastery. In light of his recent actions vis-à-vis Mary McAleese, what are his connections with Archbishop Theodore McCarrick? And consequently, how are his actions in relation to Mrs McAleese to be interpreted?

  17. Catrina mcdermott says:

    Not meaning any disrespect to the ACP but how can I defect from the Roman Catholic Church? I just think too much bad water has gone under the bridge and it is a negative force in society. Can the Pope set up a process to let people like me leave. I would like that very much.

  18. Barry McGonigle says:

    Hello. I hesitated to contribute for 2 reasons. I am not a priest and in my view the pope is coming to an international conference which happens to take place in Dublin. He is actually spending an embarrassingly short time in Ireland!
    Anyway, Advice:
    Dear Francis.
    Keep breathing. We need you to stay in office for a few years. The loosenings you have begun are still fragile also the more pastoral, liberal, and progressive men you have appointed are still a minority.
    I believe that a secondary purpose of Amoris Laetitia was to open the door a crack so that a future regieme can provide us with a theology of love, marriage, gender, and sexuality in all its wondrous diversity.
    So, in the spirit of “opening doors a crack”:
    Set up a commission to review the role of presbyters in our church. The current form of priesthood is not working for anyone. It is past its sell by date.This commission can/will report near the end of your pontificate but you can give it enough air & support to enable a future pope to think the unthinkable.
    Find more ways to include women in the leadership (not support!) roles of our church.
    Form a new child abuse commission. Back it to the hilt this time. You don’t really have any valid reason not to. Chile, Mc Carrick, Australia, Ireland, ad infinitum.
    Lastly in your next consistory as well as appointing a dozen or so cardinals in your own style, Why not appoint a few theologians who are not priests? They sadly would probably have to be male at this stage but only need to be baptised not ordained. That would really open minds to rethink how our church is governed.
    P.S. Keep your heel firmly on Card. Burke’s neck and mind your back.
    Regards Barry

  19. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Mary@6 & 13, James Allison’s two part series, “Gay priests are caught in a trap of dishonesty”, reproduced here from The Tablet, promises to be the most honest response yet to at least 4 of your 8 ‘Theses for Francis’.

  20. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Catrina@16, probably the best way to leave a club is just to LEAVE. No need for a recessional accompaniment of triumphal trumpets or mournfully muffled or even half-muffled bells. If anyone misses us badly enough, surely they’ll come running after us before we get to the front gate?

  21. Richard O'Donnell says:

    Excellent list Mary @6. Also add that there needs to be meaningful and open consultation with the laity when appointing bishops. The current method of selection is just jobs for the boys and an insult to the laity and indeed priests and other religious.
    If Francis does not meet the victims of clerical and religious sex and physical abuse, then the whole papal visit becomes just more Roman Catholic hypocrisy

  22. Kevin Walters says:

    On Monday 31 May 1982 Pope John Paul II visited York and hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the racecourse I was one of them with my wife and young daughter ‘accompanied ‘by a ‘fiend’ .
    While we waited in a sectioned enclosure, for his arrival the choir in the back ground constantly sang in unison, obscure hymns some in Latin, we were like sheep without a Shepherd. After several hours we caught a glimpsed him, as he quickly passed in his Popemobile. I went home feeling dejected.
    Twenty eight years later Pope Benedict XVI’s visited the United Kingdom, but there was to be no flocking this time, it was to be a much smaller privileged all ticket affair, organised to perfection, hymns were known and sung in unison and ‘image’ of a holy church, possible 20% the size of the York gathering.
    Naturally I was not invited, I had no one to accompany (Vouch for) me. I think I saw some friends of the ‘fiend’ who ‘accompanied’ me to York all those years ago.
    It has been said the extreme Conservative and Liberal elements in the Church hold hands behind each other’s backs.
    For over thirty five years as a sinner and outsider I have observed the on-going demise of the church by manifestations of evil.
    From laity in ‘privileged positions’ some of whom sing Deo Gratias as Deo ‘arse’us, while coyly smiling at each other. Others I have seen walking down the aisle flipping up and holding (Signalling) jacket vents, in an haughty manner. Some of the said then seen to follow the monstrance/ ostensorium with a parasol above it, from the main altar to the side chapel behaving in an ostentatious manner, accompanied by ‘heightened emotion’
    Over the said years I have witnessed other Christians been accompanied by a ‘fiend’ in many different situations, who covertly signals others with glee “May God help us!
    Face reality Pope Francis, stop hiding behind a worldly image of the good Shepherd and cancel your visit to Ireland, stay in Rome and do your duty, as Peter, and be seen to commence to clean up the putrid stink of corruption emanating from the Vatican and protect what is left of the flock.
    kevin your brother
    In Christ

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