The phenomenon of Catholic clergymen organizing themselves is spreading from Austria and Ireland to the US and to England and Wales.
In the US, the newly-founded Association of U.S. Catholic Priests is up to over 650 members. Its inaugural assembly on June 11-14 has keynote speakers Richard Gaillardetz on “The Historical Impact of Vatican II on the American Church and Priesthood,” and Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, on “The New Roman Missal: What is the Problem, and What Can We Do about It?”
In England and Wales, six priests who claim the support of over 30 priests recently wrote a letter to The Tablet expressing deep concern about the direction of the church. They call for better dialogue between the hierarchy and laity, a theology of sexuality “rooted in the actual experiences of the faithful” and a discussion on ordaining married men as priests. They criticize the Roman Curia for bypassing basic teaching of the Second Vatican Council such as collegiality. “The recent imposition of the new translation of the Mass texts is an obvious example of this,” they said. They invite supportive priests to contact them.
The Pfarrer Initiative in Austria has approximately 475 members and supporters among the clergy. It has attracted attention for its “Appeal to Disobedience” which calls for far-reaching reforms, and implements some of them with or without approval. (See also here).
The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland has over 850 members. It calls for the incorporation of the gifts of the entire community in ministry, male and female; a restructuring of the Church’s governing system based on service rather than power; a greater consultation and transparency in the appointment of Church leaders; and a reevaluation of Catholic sexual teaching based on the experience and wisdom of God’s people.
It is too early to say what form the new initiatives in the US and England and Wales will take, or whether their reformist statements and actions will mirror those in Austria or Ireland.