Thursday, December 30, 2010

Priests' body open to views of lay people

THE ASSOCIATION of Catholic Priests says it hopes that a process of restructuring the Irish church will begin in accordance with the views of lay people who responded to the papal letter, issued last March.

The association said yesterday there was a need for change in the Irish church following the overall feeling of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter. 

The organisation said it supported Cardinal Seán Brady’s invitation for lay people to respond to the papal letter and called for a continued open-door policy for all who “desire to belong” to the church.

In its response, the organisation said it concurred with the overall opinion of lay people and shared in their disappointment that the letter did not address the issue of clerical sex abuse as a “shortcoming in the structure and function in the church”.

The organisation said that if the issue of clerical sex abuse did not bring change to the church, then the views of lay people that responded to the letter would “be ultimately futile and that a great opportunity will be lost”.

Those who responded to the letter identified a need for widespread restructuring and called for greater equality in the church.

The organisation also called for “structured dialogue” between all levels of the church and said it hoped for an early meeting with the hierarchy to begin working towards reform.

Members of the association were in agreement that dialogue needed to be conducted and that the time “may be right for some form of assembly or synod of the Irish church”. 

Potential reforms should include “a greater involvement of lay people, equality and compassion for all”, they said.