Remembering Bishop David O’Connell

Feb 24, 2023 | 0 comments

Remembering Bishop David O’Connell

The ACI steering group are deeply saddened by the traumatic death of Bishop David O’Connell at his home in Los Angeles last weekend.

David chose to live his ministry in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised in St Gabriel Valley in La County.  (You can read more about his life here.)

He came to our attention in 2018 during the planning for our “Future Families: Challenges for Faith and Society” conference, prior to the 2018 World Meeting of Families; when a segment of video in which he spoke, was deleted from the WMOF promotional materials.

David was someone who clearly had strong bonds of friendship with people from his community living in all kinds of contemporary families, and he was a witness to the love that existed therein.  In his comments which were included in the original version of the promotional video for the World Meeting of Families, “Amoris let’s talk family” programme for parishes, David honoured the grace that existed in families that didn’t conform to the Church’s ideal of lifelong heterosexual marriages.  His short statement had intended that all families would feel represented, valued and welcomed at the August 2018 World Meeting of Families.

While his comments may have been deleted due to pressure from ultra conservative groups; the impact of his words and the upset caused by their deletion raised awareness of the rejection felt by many contemporary Catholic families.

David who was known as a peacemaker, never made any public statement in response to the deletion of his comments from the WMOF promotional video, nor did he attend the August events.

It was difficult for anyone who was disillusioned by the hurt caused by the deletion of David’s comments and the ‘airbrushing’ of images from glossy promotional brochures, to attend the events without feeling that they were complicit in the hurt caused.

David was, however, sympathetic to Pope Francis who gave him hope; he acknowledged the difficult task Frances had.

We need to hold on to that hope, which resonated in the words of the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s song,  ‘Anthem’ which Patrick Bergin performed at the WMOF event in Croke Park  just as Pope Francis arrived, and circled the stadium in his popemobile.

‘There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in’

We both remember with gratitude, and are inspired by our fellow Irish man, Bishop David O’Connell whose life exemplified the unconditional love shown by Jesus as He reached out, in solidarity, to those who encounter stigma, oppression and injustice with love.

Our condolences to his family, friends and community in LA County

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis



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ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.


"Come Holy Spirit, Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."

Saint Pope John XXIII, 1962 - In preparation for Vatican Council II, 1962-65.

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