Dissident Irish priests need to eye endgame

It is not about the journey the outspoken Irish clergy are taking, and is about the destination, warns Irish Independent’s David Quinn in his weekend column.

Quinn says the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) need to ask themselves what if they cannot influence the Vatican over women priests, artificial contraception or in a more general context to change their teachings on sexuality. He warns it is important for the clergy to keep their eye on the end game.

Will the church go into schism, or will it be the clergy accept it is the Church’s right to teach, Quinn asks.

“In the end, this is a debate about authority. Does the church have the authority to teach that certain things are true, or not?”

“Unless and until the ACP sets out exactly how it views the teaching authority of the church it belongs to, then we can’t know when the ACP believes a particular teaching is subject to change, and why.”

“Until it clarifies this, then ordinary Catholics could be forgiven for thinking the ACP believes most teachings are up for grabs and in that case it will sow endless confusion and dissension because it will encourage Catholics to believe – erroneously – that very few teachings are ever settled doctrine.”

Quinn observes the silence of the Irish hierarchy is deafening.

“It has said nothing about the decision by the Vatican to stop Fr Tony Flannery writing in ‘Reality’, the Redemptorist magazine. It has said nothing about the decision by the Vatican to discipline moral theologian Fr Sean Fagan.”

While Quinn suggests the bishops silence may be them being prudent; it could be said the Vatican should not have disciplined either of these priests. Quinn says a case could also be made to suggest the Irish bishops should perhaps have been more involved and prevented these situations from rising to level where the Vatican felt compelled to act.

Quinn is of the view the ACP needs to give some answers at next month’s assembly at which they will discuss the future of the Church in Ireland.


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