The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland is holding an gathering this week in Dublin entitled “Towards an Assembly of the Irish Catholic Church” aimed at restoring the Spirit of Vatican II.
More than a thousand showed up for conference that took place in the weeks following the Vatican censure of several progressive Irish priests, in what appears to be a blatant attempt to deflect the spotlight away from the Vatican’s failure to protect and defend Irish Catholics against predatory priests within the hierarchy. The ACP hopes to move toward a national dialogue on the Irish Catholic Church. Other countries are looking at similar gatherings.
Fr. Desmond Wilson, a priest who has served in West Belfast since the mid-1960s, wrote this thoughtful letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith out of his experience of the Irish context. It sheds light on the American situation of the Vatican’s harassment of Catholic sisters:
Dear Friends in The Congregation for the Doctrine of theFaith,
You may be aware that we in Ireland have a special reverence for our Saint Columbanus. He was one of our saints who disagreed with a Pope and said so. You may be more acquainted with Saint Catherine of Siena who did the same, although she had the disadvantage of having to disagree with three possible popes at one time.
Some of us view with dismay then, but no great alarm, your decision to censor some of our fellow citizens and fellow members of the Catholic Church who have done nothing at all so serious.
We are puzzled – naturally and supernaturally – by the fact that you and we preach the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and then you tell us, so inspired, to stop talking – as if we had nothing important to say. This is not a matter of doctrine, it is one of logic and we in Ireland are inclined to judge these things by logic as well as doctrine and not too often by emotion. We remember the Gamaliel principle – you remember it too, when forced to make a decision, he told his colleagues, If this be of God it’s useless to oppose it, if it be of human planning it will fade away in any case, so we should not take extraordinary measures for ordinary happenings.