Bishops snub offer to talk about reform of the church
CATHOLIC bishops have snubbed an offer to meet with a group of priests and lay people who want to reform the church.
Around 400 people attended an assembly in Galway at the weekend which was organised by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).
Organisers had extended an invitation to around half a dozen bishops in the west of Ireland to attend the gathering, however none showed up.
Fr Tony Flannery, one of the founders of the ACP and the chair of the assembly, said the laity and priests want to be able to meet bishops to discuss the future of the church in Ireland.
"There was a real recognition that the church is in deep trouble and that is not being faced up to.
"There is a real sense of urgency about this matter. The window of opportunity to act is still there, but that won't last for much longer.
"Local churches have died out in the past and it is important that we now work together to ensure that the Irish Catholic Church not only survives but flourishes," he added.
Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist priest based at Esker, in Co Galway, incurred the wrath of the church hierarchy when he publicly backed criticism of the Vatican by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Earlier this year he was ordered to end his 14-year term as columnist with the Redemptorist 'Reality' magazine by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith because of his liberal views.
Fr Flannery declined to comment on his ongoing dealings with the Vatican in the wake of his silencing.
Some of those who contributed to the conference said they want to feel like they belong to and are involved in their church and want to be "regarded as equals" as envisioned by the Second Vatican Council.