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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019
Epiphany 2019 (20190107) Celibacy isn't the cause of the church sex-abuse crisis; the priesthood is (20190114) How to save Western civilization - again (20190121) Catholic curricula and the invisibility of Native Americans (20190128) Ministry and Power (20190204) A Document on Human Fraternity Our History The Reflection on the Wrath of God (20190224) Read Just One Speech (20190304) Why the Priesthood Needs Women (20190311) "Honest Rituals" argues for sacrament update (20190325) Stop Calling Me "Father" (20190401) The Sexual Abuse Crisis is not a Crisis (20190408) Palm Sunday 2019 (20190414) What Women Want (20190428) Targeting Pope Francis (20190513) Power Sharing Seen As Essential... (20190520) Pde Francis Dithering... (20190527) When the Sky Didn't Fall... (20190603) The Ancient Diaconate of Women (20190609) Bishop Bransfield and the Misuse of Funds (20190616) When it comes to Church reform... (20190624) We asked Catholic Church women if they... (20190630) Women in Christianity - Free to share their wounds (20190707) Can laypeople lead a parish? (20190714) Civility (2190721) Mary the Magdalen (20190729) Faithful America (20190804) Sacralizing Politics (20190811) Tackle Clericalism First (20190818) Failure Guaranteed (20190826) Divorce, Annulment & Communion (20190901) Human Nature & Human Sexuality (20190909) Climate Change Most Important Life Issue (20190915) Being An Open-Minded Believer (20190923) The Laity Hold the Key (20190929) Be Prophetic (20191013) Are You Satisfied With Priestly Ministry? (20191020) Racism - A Challenge to the Church (20191101) Irish Priests Call for... (20191104)
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When the Sky Didn't Fall... (20190603)

When the Sky Didn't Fall...

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Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action

 

The mission of ARCC is to bring about substantive structural change within the Catholic Church by seeking to institutionalize a collegial understanding of church where decision making is shared and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind and conditio n.
Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates. 
                                          -   Patrick Sullivan, ARCC President
 
When the Sky Didn't Fall In 
on the Catholic Church
Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland)
Some time ago - not too long in time, though it feels like centuries - the priests of Killala diocese struggled with a huge issue. Altar girls. Women had become astronauts, pilots, bus-drivers, prime ministers and presidents as well as priests in other Christian denominations. This twentieth-century phenomenon was taking over the world and had even infected the minds of small female persons, as we saw this perilous campaign gaining momentum.
As good priests, 'faithful to the traditions of the church' (as theologians usually say when they want nothing to change), we agreed that our first point of departure should be a query to an expert in canon (Church) law. Bishop Tommy Finnegan contacted an acknowledged authority who sent on what he hoped would be a helpful response to this insidious development, a response that was heavy on strategy but light on common sense. Bishop Tommy read the statement to the assembled clergy. It was greeted by a stunned silence until one priest suggested that if we put that in a parish bulletin, the assembled congregation would laugh even more at us - Fr Ted being the most popular television viewing at the time.  The bishop folded the page and put it in his back pocket.  It was the last we heard about it.
The sky didn't fall in on the Catholic Church when young girls took to wondering out loud why serving Mass was only for boys or when word spread that in a particular parish girls could serve as well as boys. Or when they made their way inside the altar rails. And so it was.
I thought of all the angst there was in arriving at that change of direction when I read about Pope Francis discussing the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. He was travelling back from one of his overseas trips and, as is the custom, he answered some questions from journalists. Two years ago Francis had set up a commission to investigate this question. The members had come up with different positions and, Francis said, so the issue needs further study, though he didn't say who would do this or when it might be done. It was an example, he said, of 'joyful variety'.
It may also be an example of not facing what's going to happen anyway if we don't want our Church to disappear without trace, apart from a small coterie of Catholics intent on making their way back to sixteenth century via the Council of Trent. Because make no mistake about it, this is an issue that will make or break our Church.
It's a decision that the Church seems intent on avoiding, and with so many women holding grimly to the door-posts of the Church by their finger-nails, not making a decision to ordain married deacons many believe is the equivalent of waving women goodbye.
Despite the fact that the Holy Spirit guided the Church to converse with the world - to listen to 'the signs of the times - and that the vision of the Second Vatican Council was overwhelmingly voted through by 90% of the bishops of the world, the two last pontificates (John Paul II's and (Benedict XVI's) pointed us in the opposite direction.
Even though the dogs in the street know that unless religion can engage with the culture of the day it contributes to its own decline, there are compelling and sometimes spectacular instances of how this is happening to the Catholic Church.
Two examples suffice. One is that a core truth of our time, the centrality of the democratic impulse, is not just side-lined but a refusal to engage with it is presented as an indicator of (yes, you guessed it ) 'being true to the tradition'. Another is that retaining a culture of misogyny is not just a self-inflicted wound but a refusal to live in the real world.
This is not about changing direction depending on which way the wind is blowing. It's about respecting the experience of our people who have come to own significant truths about life and who need to find resonances of those truths in their search for God. It's what theologians call the sensus fidelium (the sense of the baptised people), a confirmation by the people of a truth about God and the things of God.
Pope Francis and others are worried that the Church will fragment into those we inaccurately call 'conservatives' and 'liberals' - and that a schism will result. Better they say that we muddle along as we are than that we part at the great crossroads that's coming into view. But what's different now is that the old ways, devised and controlled by the former leadership of our Church, are no longer acceptable to growing numbers of Catholics in the pews and unless there are strong indicators that the Church is prepared to take them on board the present dribble from the Church will become a tsunami, led probably by women.
The key question Francis faces is not whether the Church can afford to ordain women deacons but whether we can afford not to do it.
When John Paul II was the pope in Rome, he proclaimed what was effectively an edict that no one could discuss the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood. Not just that we couldn't offer an opinion on it. We couldn't discuss it. And the full force of the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) descended on anyone who might be tempted even to question the wisdom of John Paul's permanent moratorium.
Now that the CDF has been relegated by Pope Francis from the top of the Premiership to the bottom of the Vauxall Conference, and its former prefects are rapidly losing their diminishing reputations we know we live in a new era - and we have Francis and others to thank for that.
But there is a long road still to travel and we need to get on with it. Like we did in days of yore with the vexed subject of altar girls.

ACP is an association for Catholic priests who wish to have a forum, and a voice to reflect, discuss and comment on issues affecting the Irish Church and society today.
 
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