PRESS RELEASE 16 September 2019
Association of Catholics in Ireland
ACI call on bishops to consider Lumen Gentium 37 at their autumn meeting on October 1st.
As far back as 1964 Catholics were told by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) that they had a ‘Right to receive in abundance the help of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially that of the word of God and the sacraments from the pastors,’ and promised that they would soon be communicating their pastoral needs and their opinions ‘through the institutions established by the Church for that purpose.’ (Lumen Gentium, 37)
The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) will hold a Convocation on Lumen Gentium 37 at Maynooth College on Tuesday 1st October to highlight the rights of the laity to the Irish Catholic Bishops as they attend their Autumn General Meeting.
The convocation will feature the predicament of St Mary’s Church, Dunboe, Diocese of Derry, as spotlighted in the video ‘The Laity Have the Right…’
The Catholics of Dunboe are unable to participate in the year-old Derry diocesan plan for renewal ‘God is Love’ – launched in September 2018 – because the plan requires a parish pastoral council, and their parish of Dunboe, Aghadowey and Macosquin (also known as St John’s, Coleraine) has had no pastoral council since June 2018. The parish website states:
“Following the meeting of June 25, 2018, Pastoral Council stood down. In accordance with Canon Law a new Parish Pastoral Council will be formed.” But more than a year later there is no news of a parish pastoral council.
Meanwhile a review of buildings and Mass services is being conducted by Derry Diocese. The Derry Journal reports that ‘the future of chapels and Mass services and times’ is being examined. The spectre of the closing for regular weekly Mass of a little chapel – built in 1856 – has loomed, without any opportunity for this historic community to discuss this situation or participate in a wider renewal.
Dunboe’s predicament is a perfect example of the vulnerability of every parish community, caused by a 55-year failure to implement a Vatican II undertaking dated 1964 to provide structures through which lay people can ‘freely and openly’ declare their pastoral needs to their pastors as of right.
How many other parish communities are without a voice – silenced just as the parishioners of St. Mary’s are?
The ACI Convocation at Maynooth on October 1st will:
- Convey deep concern that the rights of the laity are being denied due to the lack of structures enabling proper participation in parish life;
- Express prayerful support for the bishops as they struggle to renew the church;
- Celebrate the conviction that the Gospel faith we share is deeply true, and always ‘new wine’;
- Point to the rapidly declining number of priests in every diocese as proof that clerical leadership of parishes cannot be sustained in many instances;
- Establish the right of every parish community to elect a representative parish pastoral council, in communion with the diocesan bishop, and not subject to any decision of a diocesan cleric to dismiss or ignore it;
- Embrace the principle of synodality urged by His Holiness, Pope Francis, as witness to the life-giving presence of the Holy Trinity in every church community;
- Establish the central importance of the common priesthood of all baptised Catholics in maintaining the continuity of Catholic faith and tradition.
The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) is committed to the pursuit of a reform and renewal agenda in the Irish Catholic Church based in the spirit of Vatican II. It is committed to helping to re-build (through words and deeds) a united Church based on the teachings of Jesus Christ – a Church that is inclusive, compassionate, accepts the equality of all believers by virtue of their baptism and acknowledges its failures.
For further information contact: Sean O’Conaill at 075 90823416 / +447590823416 or Noel McCann at 087 9274379.
Editor’s note: Text of Lumen Gentium 37:
- The laity have the right, as do all Christians, to receive in abundance from their spiritual shepherds the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the assistance of the word of God and of the sacraments. They should openly reveal to them their needs and desires with that freedom and confidence which is fitting for children of God and brothers in Christ. They are, by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church . When occasions arise, let this be done through the organs erected by the Church for this purpose. Let it always be done in truth, in courage and in prudence, with reverence and charity toward those who by reason of their sacred office represent the person of Christ.
The laity should, as all Christians, promptly accept in Christian obedience decisions of their spiritual shepherds, since they are representatives of Christ as well as teachers and rulers in the Church. Let them follow the example of Christ, who by His obedience even unto death, opened to all men the blessed way of the liberty of the children of God. Nor should they omit to pray for those placed over them, for they keep watch as having to render an account of their souls, so that they may do this with joy and not with grief.
Let the spiritual shepherds recognize and promote the dignity as well as the responsibility of the laity in the Church. Let them willingly employ their prudent advice. Let them confidently assign duties to them in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action. Further, let them encourage lay people so that they may undertake tasks on their own initiative. Attentively in Christ, let them consider with fatherly love the projects, suggestions and desires proposed by the laity. However, let the shepherds respectfully acknowledge that just freedom which belongs to everyone in this earthly city
A great many wonderful things are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their spiritual leaders: in the laity a strengthened sense of personal responsibility; a renewed enthusiasm; a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their spiritual leaders. The latter, on the other hand, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more incisively come to decisions regarding both spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfil is mission for the life of the world.
Link to Lumen Gentium – Dogmatic Constitution on the Church 1964: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html