Calls for Reform in Irish Catholic Church

Organizers were surprised that over 1,000 people turned out yesterday for a day-long conference in Dublin, “Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church”, organized by the reformist Association of Catholic Priests. The conference agreed on the need to recapture “as a matter of urgency” the reforming vision of the Second Vatican Council and called on all who were “concerned with the future of our church, including our church leaders, to participate in this dialogue.” The Irish Times report: “Meeting hears calls for dialogue at all levels in Irish church.”

As The Belfast Telegraph reports, “Silencing us won’t solve Catholic Church’s problems, say priests.” The Holy See has silenced six priests in Ireland, it has recently become known, for their criticism of Church authorities and their calls for reforms.

28 comments

  1. Brigid, not much may come of it now BUT it may affect the thinking of the next conclave …

  2. It was a most encouraging gathering with a telling percentage of youngsters, both the traditionalist sort and the open Vatican II studied group, as well as the majority of grey-haired wisdom workers who want to speak out; sufficient number priests and sisters there too. Quite a solid gathering. Hope there will be many more like it.
    One doesn’t have to have bishops show up to have dialogue. Did anyone take notes?
    I can’t imagine such a conversation happening in my own diocese [of Savannah, GA], but would be thrilled that people cared enough to do so.
    Vatican II lives! Bob Cushing

    1. You state: “…..I can’t imagine such a conversation happening in my own diocese [of Savannah, GA], but would be thrilled that people cared enough to do so.
      Vatican II lives! Bob Cushing”

      Well, your diocesan colleague and his blog

      http://southernorderspage.blogspot.com/

      interprets Vatican II very differently and not sure that this exactly encourages folks to speak out unless it is to support the reform of the reform?

      1. He could be referring to the disinterest of so many today that I often rail against, but I don’t want to put words into my brother priest’s mouth. Would you object to “reform of the reform” people doing the same thing as what this group is doing in Dublin BTW?

      2. Allan states: “Would you object to “reform of the reform” people doing the same thing”

        Sure, why not, we can make room for 5 more.

      3. Suggest not trivializing the significant cries of ecclesial communities’ pains by the ACP by comparing them to the liturgical desires and antics of a small minority.

        Huge difference between those who have suffered abuse, marginalization, diminishment of rights (including their sacramental rights as the people of God) at the hands of the church institution that covered up and lied – – and those who could not accept VII liturgical changes.

      4. Yes, Bill, there is. While both groups perceive that they suffered abuse, marginalization, and diminishment of rights including sacramental rights as the people of God, it only remains socially acceptable to continue to abuse, marginalize, and diminish the rights of the latter group.

        —–
        How is permitting someone who prefers the EF or advocates an alternate interpretation of the Conciliar documents to speak out “trivializing” to those who have spoken out in Ireland? How is the expression of the spiritual needs that they perceive any less important than those of the ACP?

        If you truly believe in letting folks have free opinions and speak to them honestly, why not afford other perspectives equal opportunities to speak and be heard? Do you really think that the anguish and suffering of those of a more traditional mindset is any less significant? Evelyn Waugh’s reactions from before the Council documents’ ink had dried provide only one example that the traditional-leaning Catholic’s anguish is no less real.

        How do you know the thoughts of anyone such that you can judge the truth or magnitude of their anguish?

        That the marginalization and abuse of those attached to the EF continued to happen after 1984, 1988, 2007, and continues to this day shows that plenty of clergy still support it.

        That marginalization occurs for those who advocate only the ROTR, in perfect fidelity to the Council documents, betrays intolerance and closed-mindedness that directly opposes the inclusiveness of the Council in whose name it is done.

      5. Mr. Goodwright – you missed my point in comparison and doubt you will get my point given your “emotional stake” in the Reform of the Reform.

        Here is an ACP speaker:

        http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2012/05/the-vaticans-fundamental-problem-eddie-molloy/

        Money quotes:

        – As Gary Wills put it, “In what we shall find as a recurring pattern, truth was subordinated to ecclesiastical tactics. To maintain the impression that Popes cannot err, Popes deceive, as if distorting the truth in the present were not worse that mistaking it in the past”.

        – “But there is another abuse (other than child sexual abuse) that has not received the same amount of publicity, but affects a much greater number of people. It is a moral disease that has affected the church for centuries. It can rightly be described as spiritual abuse. It is no mere dis-ease leaving people uneasy in one or more areas of their lives, but a deep-down illness which damaged their emotional and spiritual lives, leaving them with huge burdens of un-healthy guilt. So many older Catholics find it hard to experience the joy and hope (Gaudium et Spes) that the Vatican II document on The Church in the Modern World is so excited about.”

        You state: “……..That the marginalization and abuse of those attached to the EF continued to happen after 1984, 1988, 2007, and continues to this day shows that plenty of clergy still support it.”

        Don’t doubt that this has happened to some (a very small minority). But, Rome has also tried to address this issue even though SP is a “rupture” from past liturgical history and concilar liturgical changes.

        My point – to compare the depth of the pain and anguish in Ireland (across any number of issues) to those who felt pain because of liturgical changes of VII is too diminsh the Irish people of God, abuse victims/families, many Irish pastors/parishes who have tried to build and heal communities

        (my statement was not an attempt to diminish EF folks but to place the comparison in a better light from the “joking” of some commenters above. Not sure that you can compare sexual abuse with EF folks feeling pain, etc. but to try to equate the two does an injustice to all)

      6. Re-read your quote, Bill, he’s talking about an issue OTHER than sexual abuse: “But there is another abuse (other than child sexual abuse)…”

  3. Do you suppose this is an indication that there may be a real tipping point drawing near? Those who still attend church, of course, include many who just want to be left alone to be good or even not-so-good Catholics. What might rouse the faithful–priests and laity–to join the call for restoring the reforming Church of Vatican II? It will take more than a thousand.

    1. I suspect that the Holy Father is viewing all this with alarm, given his reaction to student protests in 1968, and how that was a game-changer for the young professor Ratzinger.

      People in Europe and here are very bitter about how their political leaders have allowed lawlessness to run rampant in the economic sector. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction over secrecy and cover-up.

      Will it take more than a thousand? Isn’t that about the size of the ordinariate in the UK? Clergy making noise will get a lot of attention.

      1. I suspect that the Holy Father is viewing all this with alarm, given his reaction to student protests in 1968

        I doubt it, given that these movements hardly resemble at all the truly frightening aspects of the social unrest in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Maybe when the Association of Catholic Priests organizes massive street protests in Dublin.

      2. I recall reading somewhere–likely it was David Gibson’s bio, that one of the things that stung Prof, Ratzinger most was that students were speaking up in class, interrupting lectures, and making nuisances of themselves. I think he transferred to another post at a different university in 1969 because of this.

        There are rules given to people in audiences with the Holy Father: what you can and can’t say, who speaks first, etc.. That’s likely true of any pope. Or especially this one.

        The notion that all those Austrian priests are calling for change–that’s got to be worse than setting fire to the popemobile.

  4. “…..his reaction to student protests in 1968”

    This has been an interesting question for Ratzinger biographers. To date, the best biography is by David Gibson. Asked him directly about those who suggest that Ratzinger made a 180 degree shift because of the student protests.

    Gibson’s documentation, interviews, and analysis does not lead him to believing that the student protests are completely the cause of Ratzinger’s significant theological change. But, he also has not provided detailed analysis or other explanations.

    What is interesting is that those student protests did not lead to governments falling (as others have in history); they were violent but lasted barely a year (1967-1968 – not sure where you get your time period from Samuel); marked by students becoming more liberal after years of conservatism because of threatened government limitations placed on university students; marked by some of the press inciting violence/attempted assassination; marked by brutal police tatics. The state eventually did pass more restrictive laws (which in time were overturned) and this student non-success ended the protests.

    Yet, from that period of time, Ratzinger makes a significant personal and professional transition. If anything, he moved toward the very state conservatism that restricted and limited German democracy (examples of student protest were against German state support of the Shah of Iran; against Vietnam; increasing women’s rights; instituting laws that limited student university rights).

    It does create questions – why would his fear or “over” reaction to these student protests lead to such a dramatic conservative tilt? As FDR said – “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and yet the Ratzinger reaction appears to be completely “fear based” – not exactly a testament to faith or hope? And why didn’t hundreds of other professionals, theologians, church leaders also change with him if the student protests were “so frightening aspects of social unrest”

    1. Bill, sounds like Ratzinger needed an excuse. The student protests in 1968 conveniently provided it.

    2. (1967-1968 – not sure where you get your time period from Samuel);

      From the facts, Bill. The majority of the student movement may have occurred in 1967-1968, but that wasn’t the start or the end of the social unrest in Germany. Social unrest continued in Germany well after the peak of the student movement in 1968, including the leftist violence of the Red Army Faction and the Revolutionary Cells among other groups.

      And why didn’t hundreds of other professionals, theologians, church leaders also change with him if the student protests were “so frightening aspects of social unrest”

      You’ve got it backwards. The explanatory force of the “the student unrest changed Ratzinger” idea comes largely from the fact that it’s well understood that many people did move to the right as a result of the 1968 protests The British philosopher Roger Scruton, for example. after seeing the student riots in Paris. The Chicago riot at the Democratic Convention of 1968 is widely seen as helping the Nixon campaign.

  5. SJH – “From the facts, Bill”

    Sorry, you are grasping at straws again. You are not a historian, are you?

    Now, you have changed the topic from student unrest to all kinds of social unrest (as if that hasn’t been going on in most countries for years).

    I don’t have it backwards – what was posited by me is that even biographers are unable to state with “your certitude” what may or many not have changed the thinking and positions of Ratzinger. Sorry, your reading of history appears to be more like “conspiracy” theories – picking and choosing to fit your “revisionist” history or, better stated, opinions. e.g. british philosopher……as if that represents “many people did move to the right”; (yes, and some/many people moved to the left – so what)

    Your opinion about the ’68 Dem convention and Nixon campaign only reveals your lack of historical knowledge. That election was primarily defined by stances on the Vietnam War – not what happened at the
    68 Dem convention. Do you always search for one isolated event; then blow it out of proportion such that it becomes your historial turning point with all the certitude of a professional historian?

    1. SJH – “From the facts, Bill”

      Sorry, you are grasping at straws again. You are not a historian, are you?

      You’re not a professional historian either! Not that it matters either way. You suggested in your May 8, 2012 – 5:23 pm that I was somehow wrong in the facts I presented in my May 8, 2012 – 1:54 pm post. But I wasn’t. I was explicitly talking about the broader social unrest in Germany. And my dates were correct. I don’t think the student protests can be neatly clipped out of the broader context.

      I don’t have it backwards – what was posited by me is that even biographers are unable to state with “your certitude” what may or many not have changed the thinking and positions of Ratzinger.

      Bill, I haven’t stated anything about why or even if Ratzinger changed his views. My comments about the explanatory power have to do with why the theory is attractive, not with whether I hold it. It’s attractive because it puts Ratzinger in the reaction/neo-conservative shift of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

      I was commenting on Todd’s comment at May 8, 2012 – 1:38 pm. Todd wrote: “…suspect that the Holy Father is viewing all this with alarm, given his reaction to student protests in 1968, and how that was a game-changer for the young professor Ratzinger.”

      I was replying to that comment. My comment assumes that one holds the view Todd does and then points out that the situation today is not all that similar to the situation in Germany at the time. I chose to emphasize the broader social context. You chose to call my dates wrong, ignoring the fact that I explicitly broadened the context. Whether or not historians have resolved the question of whether this was in fact the reason Ratzinger changed his views, or even if they changed at all is irrelevant to my point, which is conditional on the view expressed by Todd.

    2. Sorry, your reading of history appears to be more like “conspiracy” theories – picking and choosing to fit your “revisionist” history or, better stated, opinions. e.g. british philosopher……as if that represents “many people did move to the right”; (yes, and some/many people moved to the left – so what)

      Your opinion about the ’68 Dem convention and Nixon campaign only reveals your lack of historical knowledge. That election was primarily defined by stances on the Vietnam War – not what happened at the
      68 Dem convention. Do you always search for one isolated event; then blow it out of proportion such that it becomes your historial turning point with all the certitude of a professional historian?

      Your accusations of intellectual dishonesty (“picking and choosing”) and conspiracy theory thinking are quite offensive. What I wrote is not fringe thinking. If you think the 1968 Chicago Convention Riot wasn’t important to the election… well here’s an actual political scientist on the topic, since you revere the professional opinion:

      The 1968 Republican candidate, Richard Nixon, capitalized on broadcast images of Mayor Daley’s Chicago police scuffling with protesters. Nixon seized on the moment to call upon America’s “silent majority” fed up with the nation’s violent division, presumably a failing of the incumbent Democratic administration, to elect him for a return to traditional Midwestern-style values, law, and order. Nixon’s electoral strategy relied extensively on winning the Midwest region.

      Humphrey lost narrowly, largely because of voter backlash to the Chicago convention riots.

      That’s David M. Rankin in Winning the White House, 2008 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Dr. Rankin is professor and department chair in political science at SUNY Fredonia.

  6. Really don’t have the energy to try to follow your “logic and process between comments to or about Todd or me” so whatever.

    Professional historian – well, do have masters degrees in history; have been on historical association editorial boards; and taught history on both a secondary and university level. Have I written a book? no -but does that make you a professional historian? But, yes, it is currently an avocation for me.

    Rankin’s book – one of hundreds in the political science section specializing in interpreting elections and voting patterns. He may or may not do a good job of drilling down and building a case that voter backlash to the Demo convention lost HHH a close election. You can probably find other historians who drilled down and highlighted another factor in the ’68 election that may or may not have caused the results – that is the nature of election history and political science. Some of my “old time” history profs used to question the legitimacy of “political science”. (that’s a joke, SJH….also, just because one historian posits an interpretation – let’s not assume that this makes it a “fact” and a “certitude”.)

    1. Rankin’s book – one of hundreds in the political science section specializing in interpreting elections and voting patterns. He may or may not do a good job of drilling down and building a case that voter backlash to the Demo convention lost HHH a close election. You can probably find other historians who drilled down and highlighted another factor in the ’68 election that may or may not have caused the results – that is the nature of election history and political science.

      Yeah, the point is that it’s not an unreasonable thing to say and that if you don’t have the energy to read and understand people’s comments perhaps you should refrain from attacking them as being intellectually dishonest and conspiracy theorists.

  7. SJH – my poorly worded response may have been confusing.

    Historians (whether US, political science, or liturgy) usually study primary sources, internviews, etc. and draw out patterns, trends in their interpretation. If they do a good job of analysis and their interpretative approach stands up to scrutiny, the professional field usually incorporates their findings.

    That being said, history is an “art” and is best when folks recognize the validity of an interpretative approach based carefully upon the facts, chronology, and personalities. This is a complex endeavor.

    My point is that this process takes skill and time. Historians often write “monographs” as part of their “publish or perish” job situation. Well done monographs can contribute to narrative histories, patterns, and interpretations. But, monographs typically only capture one small slice of the broader story.

    You cite Rankin’s book – well, in fact it is a collection of articles (monographs) that all compare and use the same drill down approach to significant US elections. Whether this approach will be accepted by the mainstream professional class or stand up to scrutiny over time is yet to be determined. Thus, IMO, the caution that is necessary is taking monographs and using them as if they are: 1) fact; 2) certitude. History is interpretation and changes based upon society, generational thinking, etc.

    My point about taking bits and pieces is the same whether it be US election history, Eurpoean social unrest, or catholic liturgy history. Example – one could take a liturgical article by a conservative curial official e.g. Rajnith and, using that as your foundation, arrive at all sorts of reform of the reform interpretations. What would be missing is that there is no comprehensive historical foundation – rather, it is replaced by the writer’s bias, projections, and, at times, skewed approach to the total picture. (taken to the extreme – you get conspiracy theories)

  8. Mr Howard, you seem to find so many things on PTB offensive that one begins to wonder whether you come here just to be offended.

    Or is that simply your default position when someone doesn’t agree with you?

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