A group of Catholic priests has criticised the Vatican’s diplomatic representative in Ireland, claiming the papal nuncio has pursued policies that are “inadequate to the needs of our time, at odds with the expectations of people and priests, and out of sync” with the Church.
The Association of Catholic Priests challenged nuncio Archbishop Charles Browne’s selection of new bishops since first appointed nearly five years ago.
The association, which claims to represent over 30% of priests in the country, said that Archbishop Browne has declined to meet with it to discuss its concerns, despite it passing a motion at its AGM last year expressing “its grave disquiet at some of the policies presently being pursued in relation to the appointment of bishops in Ireland”.
That motion also criticised “the lack of any credible process of consultation; the preference in the main for candidates drawn from a particular mindset… and not least the choice of candidates who seem to be out of sync with the realities of life in Ireland today and uncomfortable with the openness of Pope Francis to change and reform the Church.”
The association said yesterday that between past and impending appointments, Archbishop Browne will play a central role in the appointment of bishops to 16 of 26 dioceses.
“The Association of Catholic Priests believes that, at this most critical juncture for the Catholic Church in Ireland, the policies being pursued by Archbishop Browne in the choice of bishops are, in the main, inadequate to the needs of our time, at odds with the expectations of people and priests, and out of sync with the new church dispensation,” it said.
Fr Brendan Hoban told the Irish Examiner that the association believes the bishops are too conservative.
It cited the Church’s approach to last year’s marriage equality referendum. He said that the bishops’ approach “lacked nuance”.
“The people in the pews have moved on from the kind of church the bishops represent. They are much more open to the ordination of married men and women deacons, for example. In 10-15 years, the Irish church will not have the ability to provide the services currently there.”
Attempts to contact a representative from the papal nuncio’s office were unsuccessful.
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