Thursday, December 30, 2010

Association of Catholic Priests Response To Bishop Freeman

Statement from the Association of Catholic Priests

In response to Bishop Freeman in Irish Times. (28th Dec.)

The Association of Catholic Priests is delighted with the initiative taken by Cardinal Brady, inviting people to respond to the Pope’s letter, and give their views on the state of the Church in Ireland.

We are totally supportive of the views of the respondents, as reported by Bishop Freeman, in today’s Irish Times (Rite and Reason column).

We agree that if the response to the issue of clerical sexual abuse is not seen in the broader context of the “shortcomings in structure and function in the church”, that it will be ultimately futile, and that a great opportunity will be lost.

Bishop Freeman hopes that this process will be the beginning of a renewal of the Church.  This is our hope too.

We believe that this renewal much include, as the survey indicated, a greater involvement of lay people, equality and compassion for all. It is our fervent wish that the Church would have an open door for all who desire to belong, and that no one should feel excluded for any reason.

We also note that the survey is unhappy with the use of titles in the Church;  many of our members have already called for them to be abolished.

We also agree that the examination of the structures of the Church must include dialogue in relation to sexuality, clerical celibacy and the exclusion of women.

As an association we note with satisfaction Bishop Freeman’s reference to the need for “structured dialogue”, and we are more than willing to be involved in that dialogue, and would hope for an early meeting with the hierarchy to begin the process. 

But we agree that the dialogue needs to be conducted at all levels. 

The time may well be right for some form of assembly or synod of the Irish Church.