Minutes of Meeting Tuesday 1st July
John Kelly welcomed us and reminded us that we had chosen for our July Meeting to
a) study the ACI Aims and Objectives with a view to deciding individually on whether join ACI if we had not already done so and
b) discuss the Vatican Survey on Family with a view to contributing to the ACI response .
Teresa Mee led us in a short interval of reflective prayer.
Aims and Objectives
David Walsh then distributed copies of the Aims and Objectives of ACI(copy attached) and took us through a point by point discussion. In the discussion on the Aims and Objectives it was noted that:
Based on letter and spirit of Vatican 11 “ACI is committed to the pursuit of reform and renewal in the Irish Church.
‘to rebuild a united Church based on the teachings of Jesus Christ’: Rebuild implies massive change, going down to the foundation. The foundation based on Jesus Christ is stable, the current spirit and structures are not.
We recalled Francis of Assisi’s dream of being called to ‘rebuild my Church’? Pope Francis likewise facing present reality is calling for change, simplicity… Among a few others, Down and Connor Diocese has engaged in a long consultation i.e. www.downandconnor.org/livingchurch. For a United Church it was felt that listening is essential, mutual listening.
ACI believes in particular“in a Church that is inclusive, compassionate, accepts the equality of all believers by virtue of their baptism..” Inclusive in the spirit of Vatican II – Church as People of God. United Church. Role of Bishop to unite the Church the People of God. Listening is seen as essential to unity.
Since “the Spirit speaks through the voices of all the baptised’ – hence the right of all to have their voices heard in the formation of Church teaching and to participate fully in the life of the Church including decision making at all levels.
The authority of Bishops must be respected, but authority of Bishops also comes from within the People of God. Bishops in their service of the People of God need to listen. Since the ‘full participation of all the baptised’ is already called for, (see under United Church above), some of our group question the advisability of singling out women for ‘full participation in every aspect of the Church’, as in 2nd sentence under last paragraph of ACI Aims and Objectives.
David concluded by inviting people to join ACI by signing up on the website and paying the subscription of €10.
Vatican Survey on the Family
Eimear Hegarty presented a paper (copy attached) on the Vatican Survey on the Family-. She noted that the survey, which was global, highlighted the many dimensions of family which the church faces in the world including: marriages with dowry, polygamy, the caste system and surrogate motherhood. Eimear also noted the influence of culture on the perception of what can be regarded as a family and the lack of awareness of the church’s teaching, and asked whether we thought the survey raised new and old issues for us which were now challenging to our faith.
She noted the problems with regard to the language of the document, and its circulation. Only six Dublin parishes disseminated information on the Survey, yet it is the duty of bishops to hear from the laity on the Synod Survey on Family in the light of Pope Francis’ invitation. This raised again a number of questions:
90% of marriage failure is due to poor communication. What about Church failure, about Communion without communication? Do the bishops see communicating with, listening to the people as promoting unity,as part of their role?
In the light of the recent questionnaire for the Synod and its unsatisfactory distribution there was a need to ask the question “why was it done that way”. This led to a discussion on a Bishop’s responsibility to the people of his diocese and how that should be exercised. It was suggested that the current Church structure did not facilitate two-way communicating in a meaningful way and that ACI should ask to meet with the Bishops about this.
It was suggested that it would be useful to extend the group’s comment/information base to include young people and not so young who may be disaffected or otherwise from church. This could be initiated by members speaking to friends/family to get their views on how they see the church and its relevance to them. It was agreed that could form the basis for an agenda for the next meeting. It was further suggested that some possible questions should be included on the next meeting notice and that members would bring their feedback and their own suggested questions to the meeting.
A further suggestion regarding this topic of involving people outside the group included an invitation to the Religious teachers to address these questions in their schools and invite them and/or their students to present some feedback on their perceptions to us. This could form the basis of an interesting interface with the younger population and perhaps constitute the basis for an academic project .
Tuesday 12th August 12th in at 7.30 in the Portacabin.
“The authority of Bishops must be respected, but authority of Bishops also comes from within the People of God. Bishops in their service of the People of God need to listen.”
I agree. Authority, especially in the church needs to be understood not as something taken but as something given. Given by God through the people. The people give bishops, and for that matter parish priests, authority over the church community aspect of their lives for the common good. In the past, too much authority was given and inevitably was taken. Thankfully people are beginning to question how much authority should be given, how it should be exercised and where the boundaries are. Authority without accountability is no longer acceptable, but will continue to be what we get until enough people respect themselves enough to speak up for change.
You may have put your finger on the fundamental weakness of the Irish magisterium there, Martin. They seem not to understand that a huge number of Irish people who claim still to be in some sense Catholic, but who never turn up any more, have simply tuned out of ‘unaccountable non-authority’ – this monological model we have had to suffer for so many decades. It’s a kind of self-excommunication on the part of the ‘leadership’ that leaves the Irish church stranded on Craggy Island, like that rusting hulk we see in the opening credits of ‘Father Ted’.