Catholic reformers ask bishops to really back Pope Francis

Catholic reformists and Ireland’s Association of Catholic priests have called on bishops to be more pro-active in support of Pope Francis.

In a statement issued after a meeting in Limerick in Ireland, bishops were called on to “courageously and publicly” support the vision and programme of Pope Francis.

“A key issue will be to devolve authority away from the Vatican to local churches.

“Connected to this is the need to enhance the authority of the local churches, especially parishes,” the statement noted.

The meeting was organised by Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery, who had been silenced by Rome.

“With the resignation of Pope Benedict we are at the end of an era, and this is our best chance to renew the Church for a long time,“ Fr Flannery said.

He called on Ireland’s Catholic bishops in particular to “put their shoulders behind Francis”.

He was “personally disappointed” that this had not been the case.

A major topic of the three-day event was the need for “full equality of women in Church life”.

The statement said that “during a very open and honest discussion, it became clear that there is much pain concerning the exclusion of women from governance, leadership and ordained ministry – and how that causes division and affects the entire life of the Church”.

Such was the depth of feeling about women in the Church that a planned Eucharist at the conference did not happen and a prayer service was held instead.

Fr Brendan Hoban of the ACP said there was “grave dissatisfaction” among his 1000 members over the way the current nuncio in Ireland was operating in the appointment of new bishops.

He pointed to a lack of “real consultation”, a restricted pool of possible candidates and he also objected to the practice of “parachuting” bishops from other parts of the country into dioceses.

The reform conference also called for full participation in October’s synod on the family of Catholics who are LGBT, divorced and re-married, members of inter-faith families and other marginalised people in the Church.


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