Catholic reformist leaders to gather in Ireland

Catholic reform leaders from around the world will meet next week in Ireland for a conference organised by a censured Redemptorist.

The International Network of Church Reform Movements conference, organised by Fr Tony Flannery, is expected to attract 40 representatives.

Fr Flannery said the topics expected to be discussed include the “reform agenda of Pope Francis, the future of parishes and communities, women’s equality and how to communicate with the Vatican”.

According to The Tablet, among those attending will be Martha Heizer, head of We Are Church Austria, who was excommunicated by the Vatican along with her husband, Gert Heizer, for celebrating Mass without a priest present.

Other participants include Australian Paul Collins who resigned his priesthood in 2001 over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s censure of his book, Papal Power.

Another attendee will be American Loreto Sr Jeannine Gramick who champions the cause of equal rights for gay people in the Catholic Church, and who has had a long running dispute with Rome.

On his blog, Fr Flannery said this would be the first time “such a large gathering of leaders of the Church Reform Movement have met”.

Fr Flannery said the “main focus of the event will be to get to know each other, with the aim of supporting Church reform, both at the level of structures of authority and at the grass-roots”.

“This is the first time that this group will come together, so a lot of it will be sharing experiences and ideas on Church reform.”

No member of the Irish hierarchy had been invited to attend the conference, Fr Flannery said, adding that the priests attending will be representing priests’ associations.

The public is invited to attend the final session of the conference to be held in a hotel in Limerick from April 13-16.

Fr Flannery was banned from ministry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2012 for his views on the Eucharist and priesthood.


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