Wellbeing of Priests – Dublin Region Meeting

45 priests present, 32 individual contributions from the floor.
Intro: Brendan Hoban
Chair, welcomed all and recited the opening prayer.
Highlighted the WELLBEING as distinct from the care of priests. Raised at AGM – need to be interested in our own wellbeing, so regional meetings – all getting older, working longer, getting ill, ministry, leaving, relationships with bishops, bullying, under pressure, stress… It is a listening exercise, so speak the truth as you see it.
We plan to develop protocols for specific needs, e.g., ACP will assist and accompany priests to meetings with Bishops. The wellbeing of priests needs more attention.
Regional meetings will provide the issues and ACP will provide the protocols to be presented at the AGM for approval.
Main Concerns Raised:
Protocols idea welcomed – both positive and defensive protocols.
Mental wellbeing – suicide is an issue – circa 8 priests have committed suicide in the past 10 years. Some priests find support and comfort in GROW groups.
Depression: Worried about priests who didn’t attend today because of depression. Many priests feel cornered. How do we help them?
Clustering = servicing people with Masses. Clustering should be on this year’s AGM agenda. We need to say no to more parishes, more clustering, more Masses… It’s like an abuse of the elderly by some Bishops. Stand up to institutional abuse.
Canonical and civil rights of priests – we need to be aware of them.
Bishops should think for themselves and not worry about Rome. Bishops need you more than you need them. You need the laity more than they need you!
Our hands are tied because of Rome and the way sacraments are going – First Communion and Confirmation – you never see the majority in church again! Note the false sense of obedience to an imperialist structure.
Laity: Let laity do the parish administration – this ensures continuity even with the changeover of priests. Why do we want so much control? We have reduced the Real Presence to a Tabernacle rather than in the believing community.
Let laity have more control – until you’re told to stop. Bishops don’t like rows over increased laity involvement! Use baptisms and funeral in a more positive way to get in touch with the laity.
New Church Models: We need to accept other models of church. The current ‘praying for vocations’ model is like praying for the resuscitation of a corpse! We need to be midwives of change for a new church. We can’t raise a corpse. We want to rise with JC. A new model of priesthood is required – in 2030 there will be 144 priests in Dublin’s 199 parishes…
The lack of consultation with priests over the appointment of Bishops was noted, with some 12 Bishops appointed by the outgoing Papal Nuncio.
Concern with current child abuse protocols being applied to ALL priests out of ministry – unjust. Canon Law is a slow process compared with civil law. Justice delayed is justice denied. Also be aware of priests in prisons, don’t judge.
A lot of negativity around, especially from the media – church bashing.
Even the orders are dying.
Congrats to ACP – on the ongoing support, work, regional meetings and website.

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  1. Dermot Healy says:

    This asks the question, ‘Of what use is our Church, in its present structure and operations, to God?

  2. Padraig McCarthy says:

    The meeting was announced as “to explore in practical detail the worries and the fears that surfaced about the wellbeing of Irish priests at our recent AGM.”
    While the meeting was not all on the negative side, perhaps we could have focused also more purposefully on the opportunities before us and what we can do, individually and together, while not ignoring the worries and fears we face, nor the failures in the hierarchy.
    I wonder, for example, what St Paul would have done if he faced our challenges, knowing that he faced far greater challenges from among the disciples and from without.

  3. What recourse does a priest have, in light of the minutes of your meeting, if he is tethered to his bishop/diocese for $$$, insurance etc.
    You can bang the pots and pans with loud clamor but the bishop, I think, hold the keys to the purse!
    If priests are indeed tired and I am sure you guys are… why not take a sabbatical?
    What right does a priest have to a paid sabbatical? Does canon law have any pointers on this?
    Are there conditions on where he spends that time?
    Any response to the above would be appreciated.
    Gods peace

  4. I agree with Padraig @2, It was great to see so many clergy present and the issues raised being discussed. I am left wondering, when the meeting had concluded what was achieved other than stirring up people’s frustrations and emotions?
    The same issues could have been raised 10 years ago at a meeting of priests in Ireland. Might we believe that the same issues will surface in 10 years time? Just a question.

  5. Richard O'Donnell says:

    ACP assisting and accompanying priests to meetings with Bishops is a good idea.But it might be more useful if they brought their solicitor. Civil law has precedence over canon law despite what some church authorities might like to think.
    Committing suicide is an outmoded and very harsh concept.I thought the language used now is “people taking their own lives” which, while obviously very sad, at least takes away the terrible idea of sin.
    Paul’s idea @ 2 above about sabbaticals is well worth exploring.

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