Unrest in Irish Catholic Church

“Clerical Whispers” reports on the first meeting of the newly-founded Association of Irish Priests yesterday:

Some 300 priests turned out for the meeting of the association which aims to provide a “voice” for clergy. Organizers had expected between 50 to 70 priests to attend the meeting at the parish center in Portlaoise, Co Laois and had to change venue to accommodate the interest. …

The high turnout showed that the association had “touched a nerve” and that there was a “voice needed” by the Irish clergy, one of the founders, Fr Brendan Hoban, said. …

He outlined the aims and objectives which he said are based on the teachings of the second Vatican council. …

[I]ssues which the association will highlight are the involvement of lay people in the church and the opposition among priests to a new English translation of the Mass.


  1. Not looking good for the curia. Worst case scenario: clergy in a few countries refuse to use, and most others implement. What are they going to do? Pull the English translation everywhere? Or tolerate a concentrated disobedience here and there? Or make adjustments in some countries, but not in others? Maybe it’s fair enough to say that today’s English-speaking Catholics are united in dissatisfaction, either by what is or what is to come.

    This is not going to be pretty.

  2. [I]ssues which the association will highlight are the involvement of lay people in the church and the opposition among priests to a new English translation of the Mass

    It seems that this group is being organized solely for the purpose of opposing the new translation… is that correct (or at least in part correct?). It is a “newly founded” group… is this what they are presumably being “founded” for? If so, it’s not really any wonder then that the priests involved all oppose the new translation.

    Carl; You have given an all new meaning to the word “integrity”. Gumption is the right word however…some would say “gall”.

    1. No, sorry if my excerpting was misleading. They have many concerns, and it seems that they are primarily around greater inclusion and leadership for laity including women. But among their concerns also – I highlighted what I thought would be of interest to PT’s reaadership – is the new missal translation.
      The group is new, just got started.
      I might also have excerpted or highlighted that the first meeting did not attract many younger clergy. There aren’t that many, but of those there are, not many came to this organizational meeting.

    2. Considering the scandals that have blasted Ireland as of late, I don’t find it strange that the priests would form a group such as this, with many topics on the table. Perhaps these priests can sense the need that maybe this is not the time to be meddling with the liturgy.

  3. Why is it only news when dissidents speak? And shouldn’t we consider the source: a completely moribund Irish Church which is hemorrhaging parishioners and not producing vocations? “Energy and gumption” are useful in a “movement,” that is, the rich array of ideas presented in anticipation of reform. One the reform is done (ie: liturgical books are updated and translations are made), resisting them simply becomes a source of division and strife which is irresponsible. Priests who weren’t huge fans of the Missal of Paul VI in 1970 would be irresponsible if they wrote bulletin entries getting their people riled up against some anonymous notion of an “out of touch hierarchy.” The same is true today, even if the shoe is on the other foot. Unity, unity, unity. Sacrificing the self for the good of the whole. Personal opinions are fine, even called for, at the right time. But upsetting the laity in overtones of Marxist rebellion is not helpful. As a faithful layperson, it scandalizes me to see priests acting as selfish crusaders outside of the proper channels. Sometimes, we just have to grow up.

    1. Lots of generalizations and overstatements here. I’ll just take up one of them. There are many kinds of rebellion, Marxist being one of them. How is this particular rebellion Marxist? It doesn’t seem to have much to do with capitalism or workers and the means of production or a communist party.

  4. The post said “overtones”– no need to be excessively literal here. But Marxism isn’t only about capital and labor, it is about power and class struggles, pitting one class against another. As you see in almost everything written in the NCR and frequently on this blog, “the Vatican” or “the hierarchy” is the villain with the power, and the people are the victims with no voice urged to rise up and resist.

  5. Joseph Maccarthy – actually, NCR writes and publishes some remarkable examples of catholics in action, prayer, etc.

    Yes, they do at times paint with a broad brush and the “Vatican” can appear to be the “villian.” But, let’s be honest, the Vatican often times deserves and earns the role of villian e.g. Maciel, sexual abuse, financial shenanigans, apostolic investigations, appointments of certain types of bishops, etc.

    Let’s turn it around – the same allegations you make about NCR could be made about Fr. Z, the Wanderer, and EWTN but the villian would be different and victims are still urged to rise up and resist but against a different type of villian. Guess it all depends upon those ox is being gored.

    Sorry, but all too often the Vatican and its decisions create polarization rather than supporting the traditional catholic theological approach of “both/and”.

  6. The first meeting of the new organization was attended by 300 priests — a considerable percentage of Ireland’s dwindling clerical stock. To tar them as ‘dissidents’ is a Stalinist tactic!

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