We Are Church Ireland – “Vatican hypocrisy and hopes for our church”


“Vatican hypocrisy and hopes for our church”
Reverend Dr Bernárd Lynch

Followed by Q & A
Date: Monday 11th of November 2019
Time: 7.30 p.m.

Venue: School of Religion, Irish School of Ecumenics –

Loyola Institute Building, Trinity College, Dublin 2

(Click here for link to map of meeting venue)


Reverend Dr Bernárd Lynch

Bernárd studied philosophy and theology in preparation for ordination to priesthood at the African Missions College twenty-six miles from Belfast during the start of the troubles in Northern Ireland. After ordination he worked with the Bemba people for two years in North Central Zambia before going to the U.S.A. He earned an interdisciplinary doctorate in counseling psychology and theology from Fordham University and New York Theological Seminary.

For 15 years he was Theological Consultant to Dignity New York – an organization for LGBT Catholics and their friends – and founded the AIDS/HIV Ministry of Dignity New York in 1982. For over 10 years he was a member of the Mayor of New York’s voluntary Task Force on HIV/AIDS, and was the only Roman Catholic priest to testify before the City Council for the successful passage of Civil Rights legislation for the LGBT community in 1986. He continued his work with HIV/AIDS in London until 2011.

In 1993 Bloomsbury Press published his book, ‘A Priest on Trial’. Since then he has published articles on Spirituality and Sexuality as well as participating in TV and Radio programmes.  Circle Books published his book ‘If It Wasn’t Love, Sex, Death and God’ in 2012.

Bernárd continues to work as priest and psychotherapist especially in areas of social justice and oppression. He participated in the Irish Marriage Referendum by augmenting the ‘Take the Boat to Vote’ in London. In January 2017 Bernárd married his husband Billy Desmond on the Wild Atlantic Coast near where he was born. The occasion was honoured by the President of Ireland giving the couple a private audience. New York City Council honoured his Life Work by presenting him with a Proclamation on January 27th the day of his wedding.

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Admission free: there will be a collection

Venue: School of Religion, Irish School of Ecumenics –

Loyola Institute Building, Trinity College, Dublin 2

(Click here for link to map of meeting venue)

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  1. Mary Vallely says:

    I am sorry not to be able to attend this event as I am a great admirer of Fr Bernard Lynch whose compassionate work stands for itself as a model of Christ- like behaviour.
    Reading the article below I was glad to hear a bit of honesty at last from two ordained, Rev Marmion and Fr Surlis, about the fact that there are a number of gays in the priesthood and episcopate already. What does it matter as long as the vow of celibacy is being honoured? ( The issue of mandatory celibacy is an argument for another day.) The dishonesty lies in the pretence that gays are not accepted. No one I know has any problem with accepting the normality of homosexuality. I do feel we would be a much healthier church if all the gay priests and bishops would stand up and declare it. A Spartacus moment perhaps! Then for goodness sake get on with more important pressing issues like trying to solve homelessness, climate change, poverty, racism etc;

    Incidentally here in Armagh Parish we now have two lay led services on Tuesday and Thursday evenings instead of mass. The congregation prays aloud together and there is distribution of the Eucharist. Some are slow to accept the fact that we do not always need a priest but that we can, at times, organise such Spirit -filled community worship services ourselves. There is great potential in such ceremonies.

    One wee gripe. I dislike the term laity or lay. Reminds me of a doormat. Non ordained perhaps is preferable though a bit negative …hmm.?


  2. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Mary, if ‘gay’ and ‘pride’ are such wonderful co-opted words, accepted by all except the very odd (yes) pedant, maybe it’s time we reclaimed the strength and pride of the ‘lay’ word for people and community going back to Homer and probably far beyond the warlike Iliad or more peaceable Odyssey. Nothing doormatish about ‘laós’ or ‘leós’, any more than attaches to ‘pobal’ or ‘pobal Dé’, though the term in ancient Athens may have distinguished the people from their leaders. The original ‘leitourgein’, to perform public office at ones own cost, may have been the privilege of the wealthy, and ‘leitourgía’ may have eventually become a public duty or liturgy performed by a priestly class – but it also holds the meaning of ‘the people’s work’.
    So I expect to hear soon that your Armagh Tuesday & Thursday Leitourgía has developed into a LAY PRIDE Week, with nary a cleric in sight. And of course a laity-led Eucharistía can do without the ordained, eucharistéo polú, thank you very much! On second thoughts, maybe just call it POBAL PRIDE and let the ordained, including the bachall bearing class, count themselves in if they wish.

  3. Jo O'Sullivan says:

    In the letter Mary refers to (see link above), I read the following last sentences
    “He said Pope Francis does not have problem with gay priests.* “Does he have a problem with deep-seated homosexual tendencies or people supporting and actively involved in gay culture? Yes.” But this view would also apply where heterosexuals were concerned, he insisted.”
    I have read it over a few times and still don’t quite get it. Are people with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” not, in fact, the gay priests that Pope Francis purports not to have a problem with? A “tendency” doesn’t indicate that they are not living celibate lives surely? Does the last sentence go on to suggest that the Pope has a problem with deep-seated heterosexual tendencies if, in fact, this view would also apply to heterosexuals? Am
    I mis-reading it here?

  4. Colm Holmes says:

    If you missed Fr Bernárd Lynch’s profound talk – Please listen to this video recording. The title of his talk was “Vatican hypocrisy and hope for our church” but the title should really be “The Meaning of Life”

  5. Eddie Finnegan says:

    Colm Holmes@4,

    May I refer back to Dr Mary McAleese’s car-crash of an encounter with Bishop Karol Wojtyla’s ‘Love and Responsibility’ at the beginning of November? I hope that she and all her passengers and bystanders have recovered from any shock or injuries sustained. Since, however, We Are Church Ireland as co-sponsors of the event have sought to disperse all critics with a ‘Move along – nothing to see here – the driver has been taken out of context’, and since the Association of Catholic Priests have maintained a fortnight’s neutral silence on the car-crash, I think Breda O’Brien’s simple, dignified column in today’s Irish Times (Sat 16/11), “A simple, dignified apology from McAleese would suffice”, could usefully be reproduced here on the ACP forum, the ACI Website and all We Are Church Ireland outlets.

  6. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:


    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times – Aquinas may serve as the greatest weapon in the Church. They can’t deny the science around homosexuality in mammals. Aquinas doesn’t deny it either and confounds it with the statement – here is a copy of a letter I sent my bishop in 2012.

    Bishop Dunn,

    I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve gotten back to you. Happy 2012, by the way! I’d love to chat again if you are ever in town.
    The carpet is my issue – I work 4 days a week in a place that has carpet – I take an antihistamine daily to ward against my reactions and didn’t take one that morning because I don’t normally take them on my days off. I’m sorry if I sounded like I was pointing a finger. I’m old fashioned in thinking a guest could never have made such a request – that’s the way my parents raised me.

    Here is what I am requesting be sent off :

    1. A request for a formal statement on the Roman Catholic Religion’s views on the United Nations Charter of Human Rights (whether the charter is is supported, opposed or neutral or if there are any specific issues with any of the individual listed rights).

    2. A request for a formal statement on the Roman Catholic Religion’s views on the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (whether the convention is supported, opposed or neutral or if there are any specific issues with any of the individual listed examples).

    3. A request for a formal statement of the Roman Catholic Religion’s views on their priests. I am simply asking for a statement on whether the Pope believes that once ordained, priests are no longer classified as “humans” – whether this statement is true or false. 4. A request that a vote be held regarding the Canon Law on priestly celibacy to allow parishioner’s to inform the Church on a matter that has affected the Church. I will elaborate on this request. By virtue of Can. 212 §3 : “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” This request for a referendum is in terms a “feedback” opportunity. What should be provided to the Christian faithful is the Divine Law’s interpretation of celibacy, the Natural Law’s interpretation and the Church’s position on celibacy. Now if this request for a vote is denied, let me remind the Church of St. Thomas Aquinas’ position on totalitarian states :”…all people believers and non believers are called to recognize the needs of human nature expressed in Natural Law and guided by Positive Law issued by civil and political authorities to regulate human co-existence. He said that when the Natural Law and the responsibilities it entails are denied, it dramatically opens the way for ethical relativism at the individual level and totalitarianism at the political and state level…”

    The vote should call to question whether the parishioners feel that the Canon regarding priestly celibacy should be reviewed. But within it, you will find people’s position without actually asking it. If people respond “yes”, this is a definitive statement of their belief. If they vote “no”, then there is no reason to change the way the Church is structured. If this request for a world-wide vote is rejected, I will need a formal letter stating so and the reasons behind that decision.

    It’s a lot to ask for but there’s no hurt in asking. I hope that this is condensed enough for you. Please let me know if there is anything further you require from me. I am very busy in my spare time – last year I helped bring worldwide awareness to Nuclear Disarmament Campaigns; this year it’s the environment. This single effort is the most important one and maybe the most important questions I have asked in my life. I understand that you see this as an attack on the religion, for the basis of celibacy has been a long tradition in the Roman Catholic Church but please don’t see it as such.

    If the Roman Catholic Church does not wish to cooperate with my requests, this is an attack on all our faithful. It has become the totalitarian state that St. Thomas warned us about; a state where all the decision making power is held at the highest of offices, which is unnatural – but that is the way the world works today – that power sits out of reach; and maybe this is why we are in the state we are in.


    Lloyd Allan MacPherson

    Wishful thinking ACP?

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