National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Ireland: Priests meeting

 |  NCR Today

In Ireland, the actuality of the Oct. 4-5 annual meeting of the independent Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) may be of more consequence than the agenda -- important though that is.

The Irish priests will be joined by Msgr. Helmut Schüller from Austria and Fr. Bernard Survil from the United States. Minor though such international representation is at present, this initial show of transnational solidarity among priests could have major consequences.

The issues are well-known. Priests are under siege in the media from the sexual abuse crisis, they are alarmed at the trampling of other priests' rights in the rush to judgment, and disgusted at the bishops who have mishandled the issue and continue to do so.

ACP spokesperson, Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery, said the organization has been "inundated with pleas from priests saying their human rights are being walked on in the way in which allegations against them are being treated. For the average priest in the parish, if an allegation is made against him today, by tomorrow morning he is publicly disgraced -- very often even before he knows the nature of the allegation and before he has any chance to defend himself."

Marie Keenan, the ACP's keynote speaker on "Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church," is a psychotherapist who teaches at the University College Dublin School of Applied Social Science. She is on UCD's Institute of Criminology advisory board and chair of the Family Therapy Association of Ireland.

Flannery said he felt that after Keenan's address and the subsequent discussion, the ACP "under certain pressure from media to make a clear statement of our position on the handling of sexual abuse cases, should be clearer on where we stand, and better in a position to defend the priests" who need defending.

email-graphic.jpgThe latest news... right to your inbox. Sign up for NCR email alerts.

Keenan's book, "Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church: Gender, Power and Organizational Culture" (Oxford University Press), is to be published this month.

[My 4,000-word report from Ireland will appear in the Oct. 14 print issue of NCR. From two dozen interviews at the pew level with Irish mass-going laypeople (along with nuns and priests), I record their sense of betrayal and their dismay. Aggrieved by bishops who covered up the abuse, disgusted by the abuse itself, they are saddened, if understanding, as family members and neighbors leave church practice while they try to find ways to remain in the church, to refashion it at the parish level.]

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR2.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

04-11-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.