It was with some dismay and disbelief I read the minutes of the Cloyne Council of Priests discussion on the submission of the national committee which had recently been published. While some dioceses engage enthusiastically and others forge ahead on the Synodal Pathway we (in Cloyne) seem to be taking a different direction. The minutes noted the limitations of the process:
- Many Catholics had not engaged with the process;
- The reporting seemed to focus on the “provocative parts”;
- Younger priests felt criticized;
- Few priests had engaged with the process;
- The Pandemic was blamed;
- Negative feelings from those who did take part were noted….that it would lead to nothing.
From the minutes of the meeting it comes across that the Irish committee were out of step with the rest of the developing world. It was suggested that care should be taken not to “alienate” faithful Catholics. In other words…do nothing.
A few thoughts struck me about the Cloyne Council of Priests minutes:
- The unwillingness to ask some very pertinent questions;
- Why was it that so few priests and lay engaged in the process in Cloyne?
- What were people saying about younger priests? What were the issues?
It seemed to me that there was no appetite for listening, no willingness to learn. If the minutes are correctly reported there was no positive dissenting voice in support of the process.
Reading the minutes I was reminded of an assembly held 40 years ago in the diocese where, for the first time, priests were given an opportunity to air their views openly. In one of the feedbacks the practise of ‘snag hunting’ – putting obstacles in the way of any meaningful ideas or progress – was mentioned. Reading the minutes of the Council of Priests it seems the practice is alive and well.