'Bishops must put an end to communion conveyor belt'
A well-known Dublin parish priest has told Irish bishops that their two top new year's resolutions should be to start selling Church property to help the homeless and to end the holy communion "conveyor belt".
Fr Joe McDonald was one of eight survivors of clerical abuse who met Pope Francis in Dublin last August. He was abused as an eight-year-old altar boy by a priest in his native Belfast between 1969 and 1973.
Describing the housing and homeless crisis as a disgrace, Fr McDonald said if the Church is serious about giving a lead on homelessness it must "start selling vast tracts of property" and only then will it be able to tackle Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and tell him "to get his act together".
Fr McDonald, who is author of the book 'Why the Irish Church Deserves to Die', also hit out at the way the sacraments of communion and confirmation are given to anyone and everyone.
He called on the bishops to halt the conveyor-belt approach to the sacraments, which he said had failed to stem the decline in Mass attendances and had even more shocking consequences.
"I saw a kid take holy communion and she stuck her nail in it and said, 'if this is the body of Christ, why does it not bleed?'"
The 57-year-old parish priest would also like to see an end to the expensive and flamboyant communion celebrations that parents put on for their eight-year-olds, which often is the last day the children come to church.
"Children of 12 or 13 haven't a buck's notion of the significance of the sacrament of confirmation," he added.
"Instead of 70 of them being confirmed, I would like to see five 17-year-olds stand up on a Sunday to say they want to become young committed adult Catholics."