Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ireland's Cardinal Seán Brady: “If we don’t join forces the Church is destined to Die,”

The Irish clergy is not going through its brightest moment. On 30 October came the news of 39 year old Fr. Muredach Tuffy’s death, believed to be suicide. Fr. Tuffy was parish priest of the Diocese of Killala, in County Mayo and director of the Newman Institute of Education where he taught.

Speaking from the BBC’s offices in Enniskillen, Fr. Brian D’Arcy revealed the great mental pressure Irish priests have been subjected to as a result of the sex abuse scandals and the Catholic Church’s official doctrine regarding contraception, homosexuality and obligatory celibacy (“I love the Church but I am not sure the Church would want me as its priest”).

“It is a palpable sense of discomfort that leads to depression and sometimes borders on desperation,” the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) was told. In recent days the ACP has been particularly frustrated by Irish priests’ polite but nevertheless firm refusal of the invitation to attend the next meeting of over 850 priests (of the total 4,500 living on the island), scheduled to take place between 9-10 November at the Regency Hotel in Dublin.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that there are canonical bodies to discuss ecclesial issues, presbyterial councils for example. Priests have reiterated that these structures have a purely consultative purpose and are convened by bishops who preside over them and establish the items on the agenda.

The ACP has an entirely different style, however. It is in touch with Austria’s so-called “disobedient” priests and is opposed by conservative Irish Catholics. ACP’s meetings are characterised by complete transparency, they are open to the laity and the topics for discussion are decided upon jointly. The association’s members are currently concerned about the visible drop in vocations and the scarcity of priests which means that within the next 20 years it could become impossible for communities to celebrate the Eucharist.

The Year of Faith is offering the chance of a renewal, clerics tell ACP, quoting Benedict XVI: if presbyterial meetings are often discomforting, as the Irish Primate, Cardinal Seán Brady allegedly said, perhaps they could do with being infused by the laity’s energy and enthusiasm. After all, last month it was Brady who said he hoped other meetings would be held with the ACP after the March meeting. In June priests wrote to bishops asking what could be done to prevent a complete collapse.

“If we don’t join forces the Church is destined to die,” was one of the statements made last 14 October at a meeting of priests in Cork.

Meanwhile, another group of Irish priests are living the high life. The group in question are The Priests, the multi-platinum trio of Irish singing tenors who are currently on tour in Canada and whose concerts are a sell-out.

- Vatican Insider