Tuesday, 22 May 2012



THE IRISH TIMES LETTERS PAGE..............................................NOT PUBLISHED !!!


As a Catholic and priest who has been ploughing a very lonely furrow for nearly 30 years I was deeply impressed by many of the people who spoke recently at the ACP conference in Dublin. I found the contributions from the lady speakers inspiring and my “heart burned within me” as Father Tony Butler from Cork made his spirit filled contribution.
Before arriving at the conference I had made a very firm decision not to speak – in case I would be accused of trying to “hijack” the day in anyway. But as the day wore on I felt I had to say something.  
When we want to change an institution there is a very grave danger that we will get lost in a universe of meetings, conferences, words and written reports. We all know that actions speak louder than words. Our church will only be changed by actions and not by words. We need “orthopraxy” and not just orthodoxy”.
If we want optional priestly celibacy priests need to openly take partners and continue in ministry. If one Irish priest did this he would be annihilated. But if 900 + Irish priests did it the institution would have the problem – not the priests in love!
If we want women priests we should ordain women, concelebrate Mass with them and invite them to lead worship in our churches.
If we want to treat our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers with equality in our church we should openly celebrate liturgical ceremonies with them and ordain them if they feel so called.
If we want to minister compassionately to our sisters and brothers in “second unions” we should openly offer them marriage ceremonies according to the precedent set by St. Basil of Caesarea.
I would respectfully call upon the ACP and their supporters to recognise two realities:
1.     There was a very independent church in Ireland for well over a thousand years before it was “Romanised”.
2.     The Catholic Church which has 1.2 billion people has been hijacked by a small minority of its members (the Roman curia and episcopate) and that hijacking must be brought to an end by the majority in the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
At the Dublin conference Father Tony Butler, quoting St Augustine, spoke of the two daughters of HOPE – ANGER and COURAGE.
In the Gospels Jesus asked His disciples: “Can you drink the cup that I must drink”?
To bring about the changes that are needed will involve suffering, rejection, suspension, charges of heresy and disloyalty and maybe even canonical excommunication.
If we wait around seeking the permission of the “Hierarchy” our great, great, great grandchildren will be exactly where we are now – or indeed may be back attending Mass in Latin, burying their miscarried babies in a field on their farm, getting “churched” after giving birth, fasting from midnight and receiving indulgences from kissing bishop’s rings containing relics of Saint John Paul of Krakow and Saint Benedict of Bavaria.
Today, in 2012 Jesus is saying to us all: “Can you drink the cup that I must drink”?

Bishop Pat Buckley

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