Press Statement from International Catholic reform Conference in Limerick, April 2015

Apr 18, 2015 | 5 comments

New Era – Last chance: Catholic Priests Associations and Reform Groups unite in International Conference in Limerick, Ireland

Limerick, 16.04.2015.

Radisson Hotel Limerick

“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“, Father Tony Flannery of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said during an international conference in Limerick that brought together over 30 Catholic priests and church citizens from Ireland, Austria, Australia, Germany, India, Italy, Slovakia, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.

The four-day meeting was hosted by the ACP.
“The election of Pope Francis has begun a new era in Catholicism”, Father Flannery added. The meeting called on the Bishops of their respective countries courageously and publicly to support the vision and the programme of Francis for the Church.

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 church, especially parishes.

Participants focused on several topics affecting the life of the Church. Central to the discussion was the role and full equality of women in church life. 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 our Church.

Another important issue canvassed was church governance. Participants called for more accountability from the hierarchy and respect for the rights of all Catholics to participate fully in the life of the Church.

Regarding the forthcoming Synod on the Family the meeting called for full participation of Catholics who are LGBT, divorced and re-married, members of inter-faith families and other marginalized people in the life of the Church. It also called for the Church to pay particular attention to women who are living in situations of poverty, oppression and violence.

The Church lives in the context of the real world of today and the participants supported a clear recognition of social justice and ecological issues, especially global warming and biodiversity. They particularly set their hopes in the development of a Christian ecological theology and ethic in the light of Pope Francis’ forthcoming encyclical on ecology and social justice.
Participants in this unique gathering committed themselves to further work together towards the realisation of the issues discussed which are central for the future of the Church.



  1. Aidan

    That sounds like a conference that touched many of the key issues within the Catholic Church today.

    I trust its deliberations and conversations find a listening ear in parochial apartment, bishop’s house and Vatican offices.

    Irish Catholicism, and hopefully Catholicism worldwide, have a lot to thank Fr. Tony Flannery, ACP and ACI for and to thank all those whose hard work and dedication made this fruitful conference possible.

  2. Soline Humbert

    One Limerick participant’s blog post worth reading
    I was reminded of a
    piece entitled “ALIVE WITH PROPHETIC PAIN” by the well known American spiritual writer Ronald Rolheiser OMI. He addresses the pain many women experience over their exclusion from ordination., especially during the celebration of the Eucharist.

    “Their pain is prophetic. It indicates that something is amiss,but amiss with the whole body,not with one individual…..And these[women] ,the ones who fill with pain,need to be specially embraced and listened to.Those who feel oppressed,excluded and who die (in whatever way) in the sanctuary are most often the prophetic voices even if they themselves are inarticulate. Their pain is not………… Like God’s Spirit it gives expression to what is too deep for words.Pain, accepted without final bitterness and persevered in,is prophecy.It is God’s voice in a calloused church and world. It comes from conscience and speaks to conscience.That is why it is so important that those who feel like these women ,those who fill with pain and tears at the Eucharist,remain in the church and remain at the Eucharist.Without prophetic tears,we grow ever more deaf. ….And prophets die somewhere between altar and sanctuary. But their groan is a word,a voice that cannot be killed. “(in “Forgotten Among The Lilies”).
    Between altar and sanctuary, in a Limerick hotel room…. I was a participant and witness.
    Let those who have ears, hear. With the ear of their hearts.

  3. Martin Murray

    “The wine and bread placed on the altar was not shared, a symbol of the painful reality of women’s place in the Church and the divisions that tear at the heart of our communities. And all thirty-eight of us took a candle and placed it on the altar, a sign of our solidarity with women in the Church and our hope for a healed, whole and just Church where women can participate fully as co-equals.”

    Thank you Soline for the link to the FutureChurch report from the conference. These words from it and the photograph of the untouched bread and wine on the Eucharistic table brought a lump to my throat, and I’m not the emotional kind. I felt it! I just want to say well done to the 38 for the integrity and wisdom of your joint decision based on hours of honest deliberation. This was truly a prophetic moment.

  4. Soline Humbert

    Thank you Martin.
    Yes,I cannot agree more. It was truly a powerful prophetic moment. I actually experienced it as “Eucharist”
    We had been gathered together by the Spirit,then blessed, BROKEN,and shared.
    And then sent forth in the power of the Spirit as witnesses of the Risen Christ.


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