A People not a Pyramid
Christianity: Leadership in a Society of Equals
A Ghetto Church and the problem of nostalgia
One of the last defenders of the immutability of the Church’s doctrine was Pius X the next to last of the militant anti-modernists. In his 1907 Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis the Pope condemned Modernism as a pernicious internal threat to the Church’s orthodoxy and orthopraxis. He charged that the Modernists erroneously taught that “ecclesiastical government requires reformation in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic parts … a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy and even to the laity, and authority be decentralized. The Roman Congregations, especially the Congregations of the Index and the Holy Office, are to be reformed.” Modernism in the mind of Pius X was “the synthesis of all heresies.”
A People not a Pyramid
Christianity: Leadership in a Society of Equals. Part III.
“The agenda for the promised 2020 synod of the Australian Church cannot be determined and managed only by those who cling to what they regard as the non-negotiable aspects of Church hierarchy and governance, when those aspects are shown to have contributed to past failures in transparency and accountability. Those failures then compounded rates of child abuse which were shocking, tragic and indefensible. The Royal Commission has less than a year to run. Once it reports, the Australian Church will need to change radically, or become a despised, diminishing sect.” – Frank Brennan SJ (16/02/2017) 1
A People not a Pyramid
Christianity: Leadership in a Society of Equals. Part IV.
A NEW PARADIGM
….we have to make big decisions about the future … It has to be an assembly of the whole Church and not just the bishops. (++Mark Coleridge)
Archbishop Mark Coleridge has raised a number of matters he sees as essential for a responsible and transparently open process in preparation for the 2020 Plenary Council:
The need for the Catholic Church in Australia to retrieve its ‘missionary’ spirit, to let go of a introspective defensiveness. Coleridge has called for a break in the tradition about the apostolate of the laity: ‘The hierarchy needs to distance themselves from Pope Pius XI’s teaching in 1927 that the Catholic Action was “the participation of the laity in the apostolate of the hierarchy.” This presumes an ecclesiology of strict episcopal command, control and micromanagement. It is in tension with the ecclesiology of Vatican II which taught the ecclesiology of the People of God and the structures of shared governance, accountability and subsidiarity which are implied in that ancient model.’ Archbishop Coleridge also believes that “…we have to ask questions about ordained ministry,’ the relationship between new ecclesial movements and the older established communities; the viability of the traditional parish and what might need to be done to sustain the sacramental life of the local churches.
Rome, March 25 2017
A call from the European Network of Church on the Move
"Determined to lay the foundations for an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe, determined to ensure the common economic and social progress of their countries by eliminating the barriers which divide Europe, aiming at a constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their people ", the six founding countries of Europe signed on March 25, 1957, 60 years ago, the Treaty of Rome at the origin of the European Union. What about Europe today? Can we celebrate its sixtieth anniversary, with festivals and commemorations as for its fiftieth anniversary? We must make a serious analysis of the situation and the crises of Europe, as citizens of Europe and as Christians.
Our Europe is confronted with major changes in the global geopolitical structure of the world, the financiarisation of economic and political relations between countries of the world. A radical paradigm shift has been made: instead of putting finance at the service of the people of Europe, people are put at the service of finance, and fail to organize themselves effectively to oppose this domination.
Key points for a new church - future through community renewal
Call of the ChurchPeopleConferenz "Communities only work with the people" 10./11. March 2017 in Würzburg
For decades, new pastoral plans and community strategy have been developed over and over again. Always new structural models such as Pastoral Care Units, Pastoral Spaces, etc. were propagated - but all under the premise of leadership by a priest. In view of the current conditions of admission to the priestly ministry and the growing lack of priesthood (58 priestly ordinations in 2015 and 80 in 2016 for the 27 German dioceses), all these paths have entered the impasse.
"We need a rethinking in the pastoral planning," the eleven priests of the Year of Consecration from Cologne write in 1967 in their open letter on the state of the church and the priestly profession. "The previous system has caused the churches to break down before our eyes. Grandparents are in every respect a guaranty: the increasing anonymisation and separation in society are then also encouraged in the church, instead of counteracting it. "
A church, which is not prophetic, builds up barricads for the future itself. To stop the erosion process of ecclesiastical life, a church change urgently needs to be addressed to the message of Jesus from the beginning of the kingdom of God and begins and begins at the level of the church. In the current cultural upheaval, the ChurchPeolpeConference invites all church members to bring the forgotten vision of Jesus of the future of a humanity reconciled in justice alive and to work consistently on a new future of world and society.
|LGBT Catholics Westminster in St. Peter's Square, following the Papal Audience, 1 March 2017||
Mass at Cardinal Vincent's Titular Church, San Alfonso - the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
With Fr. Keith Pecklers SJ after Mass at Caravita
LGBT Catholics, parents and friends returned home on 5 March 2017 after an inspiring 6 days of pilgrimage to Rome. This 2nd LGBT Catholics Westminster Rome pilgrimage received a warm message from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster:
I yearn for church
that is not an enclosure for the virtuous,
but more an oasis for the weary and downtrodden;
not an experience of exclusion, discrimination, and elitism,
but more an encounter of radical love, inclusiveness and solidarity;
not with an attitude of we are right and they are wrong,
but more with an attitude of openness to truth
wherever and in whomever it is to be found;
not a bastion of unchangeable doctrine and dogma,
but a source of inspiration and exploration;
not one claiming to have all the answers,
but one challenging us all to live the questions;
not with a leadership of control and clericalism,
but more with a humble service exemplified by Jesus;
not using a language of condemnation,
but more with a language of affirmation and compassion;
not preoccupied with its own maintenance and prestige,
but more with a concern for the People of God,
all of us.
See more reflections on John Chuchman's blog.
PRESS RELEASE 6 March 2017
After more than 3 years in office the efforts by Pope Francis to reform the Roman Catholic Church are stalling. The conservative curia are fighting to retain power and control and are blocking reforms by Pope Francis to make our church more compassionate in the image of Christ. The most powerful dicastry in the Vatican is the Congregation for Doctrine and Faith (CDF) with Cardinal Gerhard Müller at its head. The CDF has now been shown to have:
- Refused the request from the Pontifical Abuse Commission that all letters from survivors should receive a reply
- Refused to allow a tribunal to be set up to investigate and censure bishops regarding covering up sexual abuse
- Refused to change the processes it uses for investigating priests & religious which are unjust and in breach of natural justice
Sigrid Grabmeier, Chair of We Are Church International, said, “The CDF has come to symbolize those aspects of our Church that serve to protect and preserve institutional power, often at the expense of the people of God. Many Catholics see it as perverting rather than exemplifying the Gospel. For the good of our Church, substantive change—a conversion, really—is needed in this important office. And quickly.”
In order to move forward towards a renewed and reformed church We Are Church International call on Pope Francis to replace Cardinal Gerhard Müller with someone who will introduce transparency, justice and compassion in the CDF.
We Are Church International, founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
It was most gratifying that the chairman of the Protestant Churches in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, accompanied by the president of the German Catholic bishops' conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, officially visited Pope Francis in Rome together on the occasion of the Reformation Jubilee. The Pope spoke of "an already reconciled diversity." He said he greatly appreciated the spiritual and theological gifts that the Reformation had given us and that he wanted to do everything he could "to overcome the obstacles that still remained."
Already in September 2016, Bishop Bedford-Strohm and Cardinal Marx presented their "Common Word" entitled "Healing Memories — Bearing Witness to Christ." After five centuries of condemning and inflicting wounds upon each other, both the two leading Churches in Germany declared that they intended to celebrate the Reformation anniversary together as a "Feast for Jesus Christ."
A further pivotal point in the commemoration process will be the main Service of Repentance and Reconciliation that the Council of the Protestant Churches and the Catholic bishops' conference will celebrate together at Hildesheim on March 11, 2017.
We Are Church International is deeply disturbed by the ongoing difficulties faced by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which have led to the resignation of Marie Collins, an outspoken survivor of clerical sexual abuse.
Statements made by Ms. Collins following her resignation indicate that the Commission lacked the resources, respect, and responsiveness needed for their work to be effective. This is a tragic affront to the victims, survivors, families, and parishes impacted by decades of clerical abuse and hierarchical cover up. It indicates that, despite numerous claims of concern and repentance, leaders of the Catholic Church still do not believe that addressing the damage done to so many for so long needs to be a top priority for our Church.
We Are Church International extends its profound respect and gratitude to Marie Collins, and to many others who have fought for justice for clerical abuse survivors, victims, and their families, and for implementation of Church policies and practices that protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse.
We Are Church International further calls on Pope Francis to personally address the issues that have undermined the Commission’s work. The Commission needs an adequate budget and staff to support their work. The Tribunal to hold bishops accountable for protecting abusers and putting additional children at risk must be established, and given the authority to conduct authentic investigations and enforce substantive consequences for those found to have engaged in cover ups of abuse. Most importantly, the Commission needs unfettered access to documents and individuals that have information about past abuse and current practices. The opaque culture of the Vatican and Catholic chanceries around the world must be transformed by a commitment to accountability for any meaningful work to be accomplished.
The abuse of children and vulnerable adults by clerics and the cover up of abuse by Catholic hierarchs is one of the most shameful events in our Church’s history. It has alienated thousands of Catholics around the world and seriously undermined the Church’s moral authority. We Are Church International calls for authentic repentance and a radical transformation of action and belief on the part of our entire Church.
We Are Church International, founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
From the statement of Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta at the Royal Commission into Institutional response to child abuse in Australia - February 2017
I do believe that the marginalisation of women and the laity is part of this culture of clericalism that contributes not insignificantly to the sexual abuse crisis, and I think if we are serious about reform, this is one of the areas that we need to look at.
Accountability in that perfect Church model only works upwards. You’re accountable to the person above you. As long as the bishop has the backing of the Pope, he’s safe. As long as the priest has the backing of his bishop, he’s safe. There’s no accountability that reaches outwards or downwards, and that’s the critical problem, as far as I see. That discipleship of equals calls into question that upward accountability that is in operation as a result of that ecclesiastical model of a perfect society where everyone knows their place and the pecking order is strictly dictated by ordination.
The laity have no meaningful or direct participation in the appointment, supervision and even removal of the parish priest. I think that needs to change. Or even at the episcopal level, the appointment, supervision and removal of a bishop is virtually excluded from the faithful. The Morris affair is a typical example of that. There’s no accountability to the faithful there. So that needs to be examined if we are serious about creating a new culture of accountability in the Church today.
From the statement of Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta at the Royal Commission into Institutional response to child abuse in Australia.
I see the clericalism as a by-product of a certain model of Church informed or underpinned or sustained by a certain theology. I mean, it’s no secret that we have been operating, at least under the two previous pontificates, from what I’d describe as a perfect society model where there is a neat, almost divinely inspired, pecking order, and that pecking order is heavily tilted towards the ordained. So you have the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, religious, consecrated men and women, and the laity right at the bottom of the pyramid.
I think we need to dismantle that model of Church. If I could use the biblical image of wineskins, it’s old wineskins that are no longer relevant, no longer able to contain the new wine, if you like. I think we really need to examine seriously that kind of model of Church where it promotes the superiority of the ordained and it facilitates that power imbalance between the ordained and the non-ordained, which in turn facilitates that attitude of clericalism, if you like.
By Paul Collins and Tony Flannery
He who is the object of an enquiry should be present at the process, and, unless absent through contumacy, should have the various headings of the enquiry explained to him, so as to allow him the possibility of defending himself. As well, he is to be informed not only of what the various witnesses have accused him of, but also of the names of those witnesses. (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215)
Nowadays it is widely agreed in the church that the processes and procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) are contrary to natural justice and in need of reform. They represent the legal principles, processes and attitudes of the absolutism of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. They don’t reflect the gospel values of justice, truth, integrity and mercy that the church professes to uphold. They are out of keeping with contemporary concepts of human rights, accountability and transparency that the world expects from the Christian community and which the Catholic Church demands from secular organizations. The purpose of this proposed new approach is to reflect the attitude of Jesus (Matthew 18:15-17) and to integrate values that the world sees as basic to a functioning, civilized society.
We Are Church International very critical about Trump orders
[ Italian ]
Halting and undermining the refugees, the immigrants, the Muslims, seeing social diversity as cause for fear, attacking the religious liberty, and building a US-Mexico border wall are offences to all of humanity.
We, We Are Church International, are deeply concerned as Christians, and as humans and we strongly speak out against this blatant disregard for human rights.
We speak with the same words of our sisters and brothers in USA, especially those of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and of Pax Christi. They affirm the “God's call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40)”. They affirm “We need a country where people feel safe, welcomed, and know the only prerequisite for their rights is being human”
We are convinced, according to the Gospel, that people all over the world, no matter their skin colour, or religion, or social conditions, or country of origin, or sexual orientations are brothers and sisters, and that we must have compassion and take responsibility for each other.
We are committed to the vision of justice that trumps hate and builds bridges instead of walls.
We proclaim peace and justice first, for all the people of the world.
Rome, February 2017
José María Castillo: "Muchos se hacen curas para tener nivel de vida, dignidad o categoría"
"Hasta el siglo XIII, la vocación no se veía como llamada de Dios, sino de la comunidad"
(José María Castillo, teólogo).- Tal como se han puesto las cosas, en el momento que vivimos, el futuro de la Iglesia da que pensar. Porque produce la impresión de que la Iglesia, tal como está organizada y tal como funciona, tiene cada día menos presencia en la sociedad, menos influjo en la vida de la gente y, por tanto, un futuro bastante problemático y demasiado incierto.
Cada día hay menos sacerdotes, cada semana nos enteramos de conventos que se cierran para convertirlos en hoteles, residencias o monumentos medio arruinados. El descenso creciente en las prácticas sacramentales es alarmante. Más de la mitad de las parroquias católicas de todo el mundo no tienen párroco o lo tienen nominalmente, pero no de hecho.
Hace pocos días, el papa Francisco decía en una entrevista: "El clericalismo es el peor mal de la Iglesia, que el pastor se vuelva un funcionario". Y es verdad que hay curas, que se metieron en un seminario o se fueron a un convento, porque no querían pasarse la vida siendo unos "nadies" que no pintan nada en la vida. Esto sucede así, más de lo que imaginamos.
Pero, aunque se trate de personas generosas y decentes, ¿cómo no van a terminar siendo meros "funcionarios" unos individuos, que, para cumplir con sus obligaciones, tienen que ir de un lado para otro, siempre de prisa, sin poder atender sosegadamente a nadie? Y conste que me limito a recordar sólo esta causa de que en la Iglesia haya tantos "clérigos funcionarios".
No quiero ahondar en la raíz profunda del problema, que no es otra que la cantidad de individuos que se hacen curas porque, en el fondo, lo que quieren es tener un nivel de vida, una dignidad o una categoría, que no se corresponden ni con el proyecto de vida que nos presenta el Evangelio, ni con lo que de ellos espera y necesita la Iglesia.
Además - y esto es lo más importante -, ¿es la Iglesia una mera empresa de "servicios religiosos"? ¿cómo puede ser eso la Iglesia, si es que pretende mantener vivo el recuerdo de Jesús de Nazaret, que fue asesinado por los hombres del sacerdocio y del templo, los más estrictos representantes de los "servicios religiosos"?
This weekend proved to be a dark moment in U.S. history. The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values. Have we not repeated the disastrous decisions of those in the past who turned away other people fleeing violence, leaving certain ethnicities and religions marginalized and excluded? We Catholics know that history well, for, like others, we have been on the other side of such decisions.
These actions impose a sweeping and immediate halt on migrants and refugees from several countries, people who are suffering, fleeing for their lives. Their design and implementation have been rushed, chaotic, cruel and oblivious to the realities that will produce enduring security for the United States. They have left people holding valid visas and other proper documents detained in our airports, sent back to the places some were fleeing or not allowed to board planes headed here. Only at the eleventh hour did a federal judge intervene to suspend this unjust action.
"The hallmark of the Church is its proximity. We are all the Church."
An hour before the start there was standing room only! 1,000 arrived to celebrate Fr Tony Flannery's 70th birthday and his over 40 years of service to our church. Fr Willie Cummins from Ennistymon joined Fr Tony on the altar. A choir assembled specially for this occasion sang out loud to the heavens. Noírín Ní Riain enchanted us with her singing and especially her song for Tony!
The mass started spot on 2.30pm. Tony gave General Absolution to all assembled (a big screen outside had as many watching as were packed inside Killimordaly Community Centre). In his homily Tony said nit was time for believing communities to recover the Eucharist for themselves. Everyone was invited to receive communion as a statement of love for all.
In the leaflet welcoming all Tony set out the main issues between him and the Vatican:
* Priesthood: The first thing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in the Vatican objected to was an article which I wrote in the height of the clerical sex abuse crisis here in Ireland. I said in that article that I believed the priesthood as we have it now is not as Christ would want it. In the context in which I was writing, that seemed an obvious statement to make. But, taken out of context, and sitting in a desk in the CDF, they considered it heresy.
* Catholic Teaching on Relationships and sexuality: The CDF objected to some things I had written about issues around artificial contraception, and the teaching on homosexuality. I had said, and written, many times over the years that I regarded the document issued by Pope Paul Vl forbidding all forms of artificial contraception under pain of serious sin to be wrong. The CDF demanded that I state publicly that I fully accepted that teaching. Equally I had difficulty with teaching that described people of a homosexual orientation as in a 'disordered state', and that all homosexual acts were 'intrinsically evil'. Again they demanded that I state publicly that I accepted their views on all this. I could not do that.
by Sigrid Grabmeier, Chair of We Are Church Intl.
This statement, according to Vatican Radio on 13 December 2016, comes from the Pope's speech at the Eucharistic celebration of the same day, a few days after the publication of the new guidelines for the education of priests "The gift of vocation" by the Congregation of the Clergy, signed by Francis himself . - His concern that the "shepherds" should be closer to the people, not think of themselves as something better and not to rise above the "sinners and prostitutes" is not new. But in the new guidelines, I find this concern only very poorly implemented, if not even counter-productive.
The celibate priesthood continues to be exaggerated, even the clear rejection of homosexual priesthood candidates or even of women in priestly ministry. Behind them, there is still an official understanding, a picture of priesthood and a doctrine that in a certain way cause clericalism: the theology of sacrifice and the idea that the priest simultaneously acts as the representative of Christ and the Church, always challenged "to configure oneself to Christ by exercising pastoral ministry. ".- The" configuration to Christ ", an expression often found in the document, is a requirement which nearly invites to clericalism. For even if it is repeatedly asserted how important it is for the young men to exercise themselves in humility, chastity, modesty, and obedience, they are to be formed quite differently from all others. Many passages give me the impression of guidelines for the manipulation of boys and young men who are indoctrinated as early as possible on what is so particular about their vocation.
There are certainly also positive aspects in the document, e.g. protection of minors, which will be a topic in priest education in the future. Above all, however, there is a great deal of fear of the loss of meaning of the clergy, a nimbus which is bound to a clericalization by means of a spiritualization which is already tending to kitsch and pious elegies. Actually exactly the opposite of what Francis wants to achieve. - But maybe that is the plan: what you can not prevent, you have to run against the wall or into the empty space. - We should not wait for that. "We are Church" and that is to say, search for ways, ways to go from a survived hierarchical to a viable cooperative church.
[ German ]
We Are Church has won the Integration Award 2017, from the Aprelbaum Foundation - together with Prof. Günter Hegele of the professional Evangelical academics in Germany.
Founded in 1989, the charitable Apfelbaum Foundation promotes long-term and applied initiatives for community growth and development.
The citation reads:
"The Foundation gives you the Integration Award 2017
- for your persistent development and perseverance of the internationally networked Movement We Are Church and
- for your empathic and creative proposals for reforms in your own Catholic Church, but also for your 'yes' to the Reformation 500 years ago and to a reconciled Diversity of Christians in an ecumenical spirit. "
We are Church, in receiving this prize, sees itself in very good company. Hans Küng and OikoCredit were first prize winners in 1996. Other laureates and winners include: Eugen Drewermann, Alice Schwarzer, Rupert Neudeck, Monika Hauser, Richard Schröder, Karl-Josef Kuschel, Tilman Zülch and Lamya Kaddor.
Recipient organisations include, among others, Amnesty International, the Reconciliation Service for Peace, the Terre des Femmes, the MSF, the OSCE, the Nes Ammim in Israel.
We have received regular support from the Apfelbaum Foundation from their priority fund "convergence of religions", and this has been an incentive for us over many years. Now, at the beginning of this Anniversary Year of The Reformation, The Integration Award 2017 will spur us on to continue our work for a more integrated world.
We Are Church Germany
Genau vier Jahre sind es her, dass Papst Benedikt an einem Rosenmontag seinen freiwilligen Amtsverzicht angekündigt und damit das Papstamt von falschen Ansprüchen befreit hat. Die Wahl von Papst Franziskus vom „anderen Ende der Welt“ hat es dann ermöglicht, dass dieser den synodalen Kurs des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils endlich auch in Rom umsetzen kann, den Joseph Ratzinger zunächst als Glaubenspräfekt und dann als Papst 31 Jahre lang so vehement bekämpft hat.
Dass dieser Kurswechsel Widerstände erzeugen würde, war vorauszusehen und ist wohl unvermeidlich. Denn schließlich sind viele Kardinäle, Ortsbischöfe sowie Mitarbeiter der römischen Kurie noch in der Zeit und nach den Vorgaben der beiden Vorgängerpäpste ausgewählt und ernannt worden. Aber Papst Franziskus hat aus seiner Zeit in Argentinien Erfahrung im Umgang mit Widerständen. In der Santa-Marta-Morgenmesse am 1. Dezember und beim Weihnachtsempfang 2016 für die römische Kurie spricht er die verschiedenen Formen des Widerstandes an: Den offenen Widerstand aus gutem Willen, der durchaus von Gott kommen kann; den verborgenen Widerstand der leeren Worte von denen, die sich zwar zur Veränderung bereit erklären, aber alles beim Alten belassen; und schließlich den böswilligen Widerstand als wohl gefährlichste Form, der sich hinter rechtfertigenden Worten versteckt und Zuflucht in Traditionen sucht.
Zu diesem böswilligen Widerstand ist sicher die „Anfrage“ der vier ultra-konservativen emeritierten Kardinäle zum nachsynodalen Schreiben Amoris laetitia zu rechnen, auch wenn Papst Franziskus dies nicht konkret anspricht. Mit Walter Brandmüller und Joachim Meisner sind auch zwei deutsche Kardinäle dabei, die sich Papst Franziskus direkt in den Weg stellen. Und so kann ich mir nicht vorstellen, dass dieser Widerstand ohne Wissen des ehemaligen Papstes und den von ihm noch kurz vor seinem Rücktritt zum Präfekt der Glaubenskongregation ernannten Kardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller geschehen ist.
Dass diese Opposition, die es in dieser Art seit der Gegenreformation nicht mehr gegeben hat, überhaupt entstehen konnte, ist auch dem verborgenen Widerstand der leeren Worte oder gar Schweigen vieler Bischofskonferenzen – auch der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz! – anzulasten. Denn sie haben noch immer nicht die positiven Spielräume des nachsynodalen Schreibens Amoris laetitia ausgefüllt und weiterentwickelt. Für die Bischöfe, aber auch für die wissenschaftliche Theologie ist es jetzt allerhöchste Zeit, sich eindeutig zum Reformkurs von Papst Franziskus zu bekennen, der ganz auf der Linie des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils liegt.
Wir sind Kirche Deutschland
by Tony Flannery C.Ss.R
This January marks a significant milestone in my life; the eighteenth of the month is my seventieth birthday. I have wondered how best to mark it. I am not by nature a ‘party person’, so that option did not greatly appeal to me. Having spent forty years of my life ministering as a priest, I am now into my fifth year when I am forbidden by Church authorities to minister publicly. I have decided to honour my age, and my lifetime, by ignoring the Church censures, and celebrating a public Mass. Since I would not be allowed to do so either in a Catholic church or other Catholic controlled building, I have chosen, with the kind permission of the committee, to celebrate it in the local community hall in the village where I now live, which means that the Mass will take place in Killimordaly Community Centre on Sunday, January 22nd, at 2.30pm.
Why am I doing this? I don’t think that I am doing it just for the sake of defying Church authorities. Neither do I want it to be the beginning of an unofficial ministry on my part. I have no wish to start a new ecclesial movement. My reasons are as follows:
1. For the last five years I have been in something of a ‘limbo’ state, neither fully in or fully out of the priesthood. I have known from an early stage that there was no possibility of a resolution of the dispute between myself and the Vatican. So this public Mass will be for me a way of acknowledging the forty years of my life, and the work I did as a priest—a way of acknowledging who I am.
2. Since my dispute with the Vatican went public I have received enormous support from people all over the country, and indeed internationally. Eucharist is essentially a thanksgiving and In this Mass I am giving thanks for the good will of many people.
3. Since the beginning of my difference with the CDF, I have consistently held to one fundamental point. I don’t have any problem with the Church exercising authority. Every institution needs an authority structure. But authority must be exercised in a way that is just, and that respects the dignity of the person. In my experience, and in the experience of many others whom I have come to know in these past years, Church authority is exercised in a way that is unjust and abusive. For that reason I hope that my action will highlight once again the urgent need for change in the way the Vatican deals with people who express opinions that are considered to be at odds with official Church teaching.
4. In celebrating this public Mass I am also saying something else that I regard as important. The Mass, the Eucharist, is not in the ownership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or indeed of the Vatican. It belongs to the believing communities. That was where it began in the early Church, and where it finds its true meaning. My hope is, in this time of great change and upheaval in Church and society, that the believing communities begin, by whatever means possible, to regain ownership of the Eucharist. My late Redemptorist confrere, and distinguished theologian, Bernard Haring, put it this way: “The people of God have a God-given right to the Eucharist. On the basis of human law, to deprive the people of God of the Eucharist is objectively gravely sinful”
I am somewhat apprehensive about presiding at a public mass after almost 5 years in the wilderness, but to quote Macbeth, “to go back is as tedious as to go on” and I now feel the urge to take a positive step.
For those who may wish to come to this event from various parts of the country, this is how you will find Killimordaly Community Centre:
Leave the M6 at exit 16, and take the road to KILTULLAGH.
Having reached the village of Kiltullagh – the church is clearly visible in front of you – follow the sign for Ballinasloe.
After about two hundred yards take a left off this road, and follow the signs for ATTYMON. After about a mile you will pass the hurling pitch on your right. A few hundred yards further on you will see the Community Centre, also on the right.
After the Mass refreshments will be available in the local pub, The Earl Inn, about a mile from the hall.
Somebody sent me the following, for directions on a Sat Nav or a phone. Don’t know if my copy and transfer of them will work.
Sat Nav coordinates
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El Festival Internacional de Literatura de Mantua, en Italia, recordó de manera especial el primer aniversario de la visita pastoral del Papa Francisco a Cuba, que tuvo lugar entre el 19 y 22 de septiembre de 2015. Para hablar de la estela que dejó ese viaje histórico y comentar sobre el impacto del pontificado de Jorge Mario Bergoglio, la editora de Cubadebate Rosa Miriam Elizalde dialogó con el fraile dominico Frei Betto, ante un público que abarrotó el Palacio de San Sebastián, en la ciudad lombarda. El encuentro tuvo como título la trase en latín “Extra pauperes nulla salud” (“Fuera de los pobres no hay salvación”). A continuación, reproducimos íntegramente el intercambio.
The International Literature Festival of Mantua in Italy specially recalled the first anniversary of Pope Francisco's pastoral visit to Cuba, which took place between 19 and 22 September 2015. To talk about the trail that historical trip left and comment on the impact of the pontificate of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the editor of Cubadebate Rosa Miriam Elizalde spoke with the Dominican friar Frei Betto, before an audience that crowded into the Palace of San Sebastián, in the Lombard city. The meeting was entitled "Extra pauperes nulla salud" ("Without the poor there is no salvation"). We offer the entire exchange.