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Tony Flannery’s lectures in Galway and Athenry spark vigourous debate

My first two speaking engagements on the theme of “Repairing a Damaged Church” took place this week in Galway and in Athenry.  In some ways it felt like being back preaching missions with the usual pre-mission tension as I wondered if anyone would come.

Thankfully people did come.

In my talk I gave a brief summary of some of the key events in Church history from which some of our present difficulties originated.  I tried to explain how certain decisions that were made for questionable motives have had serious consequences for the Church. I talked about Vatican II, and, in the words of Hans Kung, of the two major ‘paradigm shifts’ that occurred there, but how ultimately a powerful, centralised Rome-dominated Church has partially blocked its implementation.
I finished with extracts from Chapter One of Evangelii Gaudium, and the reform agenda of Pope Francis that is outlined there.
The numbers who came and the vigorous and energetic debate from the people in the audience showed that there are a great many people who are deeply concerned for our Church, and who desperately want to see some real change that will make it an effective mediator of the message of Jesus.  These people are in every parish.  We have to find some way of making their voices heard.
I continue next week in Castlebar, the following week in Limerick and Kinsale, and later next month I go to London for two speaking engagements.  I will be happy to travel to speak to any group, small or large, to which I am invited. I see this as a new ministry. I trust that it is part of God’s plan, and that He/She works in strange ways because “Unless the Lord build the city they labour in vain who build it”.

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  1. What about the poor Traditionalists? Where is their voice?

  2. Margaret Trench says:

    Glad to know these gatherings are going so well and indeed that you are seeing it as a ministry Tony.
    For that is what it is.
    And it confirms my belief that God never closes one door without opening another.
    You will now bring God’s message to those out on the streets – who perhaps have drifted from church- and who would never find themselves at a parish mission.
    Truly there is no limit to the ways of God.

  3. poor traditionalists? After 35 years of John Paul and Benedict have spoken at length..

  4. It certainly will be interesting to see what comes from Tony’s lectures and ensuing debates. It is one work that needs to be done and the other work that must be done is the study of scripture. At one time, the Missionaries of the Divine Word had launched a program called Scripture Ireland, but, it didn’t take off. The building of any future Catholic Communities must mean a return to the study, and contemplation of the scriptures, particularly, the New Testament.

  5. June McAllister says:

    Thank you Tony for your lecture in Athenry. It was informative and easily digested! I came away with several thoughts:
    1. It leads me to want more knowledge and understanding of Church History.
    2. The bishops are not stupid. Why are they not educating the people into a better knowledge and understanding? Francis has talked of shepherds. Jesus talks of feeding. I am not aware of much feeding, nourishing or otherwise. Are they afraid of the consequences? Perhaps they need to recall St. John – ‘..perfect love casts out fear’. And Francis is encouraging people – bishops/priests and the whole lot of us – to take risks and get cracking!
    3. By inviting people to find a venue in any area, where you will come and talk, you are inviting us to throw off the brain-washing belief that only Bishops are allowed to do anything. We are all responsible adults, and if we really care about our Church and believe that we are the mystical body of Christ, then just as the early disciples spread the Good News, so we can find time and do our best to ‘make straight the way of the Lord’ and name places where more talks can be given.
    And furthermore, there are plenty of people around with knowledge to share. Let’s go for it.
    Thank you Tony. The Institution does not treat you well. You have responded with a commitment to your vocation as a teacher and preacher, feeding the sheep and helping us to deepen our commitment to God.

  6. Noel McCann says:

    A ‘National Conversation’!!
    In his report on the recent meetings in Galway and Athenry Tony refers to the need to find a means to ensure that the voices of (what might be described as) the ‘ordinary people’ in parishes are heard and he is absolutely correct. At this critical time when Pope Francis is encouraging discussion and engagement it is vital that ‘ordinary people’ are facilitated in having their views included in any discussion on the future of our church.
    The Association of Catholics in Ireland [ACI] is currently working on an initiative, in co-operation with the ACP and other reform groups, which will provide this opportunity. The initiative is aimed at promoting and facilitating a ‘National Conversation’ on what a ‘New Model of Church’ might look like – a model of church appropriate for the 21st Century. We hope this initiative, preferably with the support of the local clergy, will provide a forum in parishes around the country where the ‘lay faithful’ can openly discuss the issues which must be addressed as part of any process of reform and renewal in our church.
    The ACI plans to launch this initiative in early Spring. Details will be available on the ACI and ACP websites and in the national and local media.If you are interested in supporting this initiative at either local or national level please forward your contact details to info@acireland.ie

  7. Tadhg Herbert says:

    Good luck Tony on your new mission. Learnt a lot from you over the years.

  8. ‘poor traditionalists? After 35 years of John Paul and Benedict have spoken at length…’
    I’d hardly call either of them ‘traditionalists’. They were moderates, who did little to correct the excesses of the post-Vatican II changes, but showed compassion to those who suffered under them.

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