Towards an Assembly of the Irish Church – update

For those looking for an account of our gathering on Monday 7 May, you will find many of the texts of the talks in the Article Category “Towards an Assembly” (See menu on right-hand side of this Home Page).
For an overview of the day, please go to the following day’s Irish Times ( where there were a number of good articles

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  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    So much grey hair — not a young person in sight. But the hierarchy should be delighted that so many people are ready to make heroic efforts to save their church even at this late hour. Are the hierarchy delighted? Remembering their phobic attitude to Popal, I fear they are not. When the Titanic strikes the iceberg, you must appreciate every hand that is willing to help out.

  2. Noirin Lynch says:

    Does 42 count Joe! 😉 I was there, as were a lot of people I went to college with and have worked with and not a grey hair among all our (dyed!) heads!!! As Patsy McGarry said, it was a good representative body of Irish Massgoers.
    It was a good day to be together. Thanks to all who created, organised, led, prayed for and paid for the day. Mile buiochas.
    I’d like to ask that we don’t give into fear ourselves (as Tony asked), by bying into mind games about others opinions and who is against us. Lets focus on the good, on creating good, on dialogue and communio. The rest can be just distraction which prevents us from getting on with the work at hand.
    God is good

  3. Margaret Murphy says:

    What a wonderful experience yesterday was in Dublin at this assembly of lay people and religious.
    I have rarely heard such enthusiasm, commitment and love for our church and for planning for the future, spreading Christ’s message as the people of God here in Ireland.
    But please can I plead with you now not to leave us with just this experience.
    I travelled to it from Mayo and I would love to see a similar day held in the West and if the needs be, as many expressed yesterday, similar ones in the other regions.
    I am the chairperson of our parish council and we are crying out for this kind of strong engagement and involvement between laity and the priests.
    Please, Please don’t let us down.
    Margaret Murphy.

  4. Noelle Fitzpatrick says:

    Not entirely true…I counted at least 20 people under the age of 30 and many more under 30 in spirit! It was such a pleasure to be part of this gathering of Church – there was real passion, real desire to hear with the heart and to speak of reality. A lunchtime homily today reminds me that reform of the Church is not a one time event but is a constant call – to me that means reform of ourselves and reform of unhelpful structures and ways of proceding than inhibit rather facilitate our path to God. Today’s homily also reminded me of the constant challenge to find the balance between charism and the rule book. It is a good challenge!

  5. Emma Louise Regan says:

    Well done to all in the ACP for bringing so many together at this assembly and providing a platform where ordinary catholic men and women could express their views in an open respectful conversation.
    I don’t want many of the controversial issues like women priests or celibacy to be changed (and I am a young person, sorry!) but I do want a church where we can raise the issues and concerns that are part of our lives everyday, as people trying to live lives of faith.
    This was a place that at least this was happening and for that I was grateful.
    My sadness was that the bishops weren’t there to hear the people speak.
    Of course it would be difficult for them and I understand they don’t want to be confronted by the controversial issues, but I do think they would have learned so much from listening to the comments that were made there by the ordinary people. I’m thinking of the parents who spoke of their pain that there children had stopped practicing their faith and the hurt of people who felt marginalized and the sense of confusion people had as to why we are now in this terrible place as a church.
    They may even have been surprised that not one person called for the cardinal to resign or were critical of the Eucharistic Congress. No the issues were mainly those of ordinary people looking for their pride back in the catholic church, which we love and cherish.
    That’s what pleased me most about being there. I don’t want to be negative. I want to have a reason to be positive. I want to be a proud Irish young catholic.
    As a church we need to begin to find a way forward and talking and listening has to be the first step.
    For me your assembly was a first step…let’s hope it’s the first of many.

  6. Mark Matthewson says:

    I would urge all catholic priests and the Association of Catholic Priests to continue to speak out regarding Cardinal Sean Brady. The man is in my view a disgrace and should resign. Staying on he is prolonging the pain of victims. I am ashamed to be a catholic and will not be back at mass until he goes.

  7. Annette Murphy says:

    Mark that is not very charitable. Cardinal Brady did what he thought was right at the time. With hindsight, we all can see the flaws in that. I suggest you remove the plank from your own eye before you judge and condemn Cardinal Brady. If the Lord Jesus had adopted your attitude, then the first pope would have been sacked at his first failing. Thankfully, the Lord is merciful. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at Cardinal Brady, a Prince of the Church, no matter what anyone might say.

  8. David Walsh says:

    A great experience yesterday. Well done to all involved in the vision and in its execution. I have two comments to make.
    1 Vatican II was mentioned a lot. There were these two stories going the rounds after it. A very elderly bishop was heard to say as he left the Council that he would probably die a Catholic. And there was a suggestion that at the next Council, the bishops would be able to bring their wives and at the following Council the bishops would be able to bring their husbands. That may have made most of us smile or laugh but I think that sort of talk put the ‘frighteners’ on officials in the vatican and so, we have had retrenchment since instead of progress. So let’s go all out for dialogue but easy on specific demands.
    2 All new movements need a champion. Ours is surly the Holy Spirit, often mentioned yesterday, and indeed present but not sufficiently identified as our champion. He present with us at any gathering in Christ’s name but especially so in the Eucharist. Can we all use the Eucharistic Congress and imagine all of us in communion in Croke Park humbly asking him and listening for his intentions for the church in Ireland. And praying that the same message is heard by our leaders, bishops, etc. Crisis can surly be overcome by faith.

  9. You know, I half wish I was still a Catholic so that I could get more involved in this. Yesterday reminded me of the exhilaration of the early civil rights days. Lets hope this has a better ending.

  10. Katherine says:

    I want to thank organizers and participants for Monday. The acceptance of each other’s realities and willingness to speak in support of a future vision was a powerful moment in our shared Faith Life. I was a child in ’68 so to me Vatican 11 is historical, but to others it seemed to have been a moment when a rush of air, perhaps “Ruah,” breathed upon them and then it was gone. They’ve been bereft ever since. I would like to think that Monday was Step One; a place where we could take succour from each other. Step Two; is to go back to our own places and start a conversation about validating every person’s contribution to our Faith. Let’s do it without asking them what they are, just who they are. No tags, only names. Jesus will call us by our name. Let’s do it quietly, methodically,just outside the spotlight. We must be close enough for people to know that a movement has begun, but not close enough to be giving constant sound bites. Step Three; we need to stay close to each other in order to be feed, so we need more days like Monday at all levels from parish outwards. Step Four: Don’t stop talking.

  11. mary Wood says:

    BBC radio 4 was “interested” in this gathering, but not sufficiently to write after the event. The Monday evening news at 6 said the acp had called for end to priestly celibacy. No other concern was mentioned. Reading the Irish press coverage, celibacy doesn’t seem to have figured as a topic!

  12. Richard Adams says:

    As an elderly layman living in a small Australian timber-getting town why would I see the Irish ACP conference as a real sign of hope? It is because the problems you have in Ireland are our problems too. Yes, every one of them. According to NCR they are the problems also of the American Church. We are all in it together as we try to live out the Gospel faithfully to Our Lord. I pray that the Holy Spirit may help us all. By the way, in the Icon of Abraham, the Holy Spirit is feminine as is wisdom in the Old Testament.

  13. Martin Murray says:

    Malachi, count yourself in. We need people like you.

  14. Christine Gilsen says:

    A big thank you to the ACP for hosting the gathering at the Regency Hotel. It was a wonderful Spirit filled experience of church at its best and truly reflected the vision of God that will be proclaimed in the Mass Readings this coming Sixth Sunday of Easter. In the First Reading this Sunday we will hear that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on the pagans and that God does not have favourites (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48). The Second Reading tells us that everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God (1Jn4:7-10). In the Gospel we hear Jesus commanding us to love one another (Jn15:9-17). May we be encouraged by these words as we work towards a church that acts in response to Jesus commandment by allowing the full participation of all the baptised.

  15. Ned Quinn says:

    I have just been reading the National Catholic Reporter’s report on our assembly. Reading the long list of comments from the readers, it seems we have struck a chord. Maybe “a terrible beauty” is being born.

  16. Therese Tynan says:

    I found it hard to push myself to attend this conference on Mon, but I am glad I did. My hope for a balanced, equal, just and fair church has had the kiss of life. Perhaps I will continue to ask hard questions, but without the probability of being marginalised and ostracised for so doing.
    People close to me, people I loved dearly, have been sexually abused by those who called themselves ‘religious’. Tragedy, suicide, madness and addiction ensued. Several died young. Apologies cannot fix this.
    However, determination to change the status quo, to create dialogue, to encourage emotional maturity as a central Christian value would go a long way to repairing and even preventing such totally destructive behavior in the future. Never again should we promote a power that intimidates beyond question.
    Change has begun and I thank God for this. May the Holy Spirit guide us all into the future, and soften the hearts that would block this growth.

  17. Brendan Peters says:

    I’m writing form England and would that I could get directly involved in supporting your project to reform the Church along the lines of justice. Please don’t give up. You are an inspiration to so many people and a timely and powerful voice.

  18. I write to congratulate all who contributed to the success of last Monday’s “kairos moment” for the Irish Church which effectively gave a long overdue voice to the voiceless. Apart from the opportunity it afforded me to meet with classmates and people I hadn’t seen in decades, it was a rare privelege to be present to witness people speaking eloquently and with conviction about their understanding of Church and what their faith meant to them. The talks were all of a very high standard and a couple truly inspiring. I didn’t know what to expect on the day given the current state of the church and the very real anger felt by many towards its leadership. However, I was soon captivated by the quality of the contributions, both formal and from the floor. These confirmed what I (and others) have long believed about the Irish church: namely, that there is a wealth of talent, energy and spirituality amongst the people of God who simply wish to have their voice heard. I returned to London feeling like I had been on a day retreat, encouraged, inspired and full of hope for the future. Now that the dancers are on the floor (to use Brendan Hoban’s metaphor), ways need to be found through parish and diocesan structures to keep them there and to ensure that their gifts and talents are harnessed and used for the building up of the People of God.

  19. I could not be with you all on Monday – i work in healthcare and was on-call.
    However I received this update today:
    “4.Due to considerable demand we have also now created a new list of members of the ACP open to lay and religious.  We have 121 members on this list, and we welcome them to our association. We may have to review this if and when the new lay association gets off the ground.
    We have now passed the 900 mark of priest members, and the number continues to grow.”
    Very successful, but why a new list? Why a new association? Why create a new different hierarchy?
    Maybe move in humility to an Association of Catholic People. No doubt a priest sub-section would useful.As might a teacher section or a married section etc.

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