Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Turbulent Priest on BBC NI i-player

There are five days left to watch "The Turbulent Priest"  on the BBC i-player.  Find the file at

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fr Brian D'Arcy BBC NI

Earlier this year Father Brian D’Arcy revealed that he’s been censured by the Vatican after challenging some of the Catholic Church’s core teachings. In this frank and personal documentary, filmmaker, Natalie Maynes follows Brian on a journey across Europe as he confronts the biggest dilemma of his life – can he continue as a priest?

In The Turbulent Priest, Natalie goes behind-the-scenes with Brian as the news of this censure is leaked to the world’s press and stays with him as he confronts his dilemma. Brian asked: “Is the price of being a priest that you stay quiet, that you don’t be a whistle blower, and that the price of dying a priest is that you don’t speak the truth?”

The documentary follows Brian as he reveals his struggle with the core teachings of the church including celibacy; “I would have been a much better priest had I married. I think it would have been the whole thing of sharing your life with somebody else and the whole thing of making sacrifices for somebody else and also that idea of a companion, a closeness, a friend, someone to call home.“

Watch the programme on BBC Northern ireland on Monday 29th October @ 22.35.  Watch a clip of the programme here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Society of Pope Paul VI

I said in my previous post I have been lucky enough to have time to catch up on churchy Blogs.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the following post about the Society of PopePaul VI !    Hats off to Bro Paul OFM Cap for the suggestion.  Taken me so long to find this.  I too wish there was a bishop brave enough to take up his suggestion and further the implementation of the second Vatican Council, rather than dismantle it with their 'retrieval theology!" - A term I first heard coined by the great late Cassian Reel OFM Cap.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Authority in the Church

I've been lucky enough to have time to catch up on churchy issues on the web.  I've found a few gems. Take a look at the website "Authority in the Church."  They present a blueprint of how authority could & should function in the RC Church.
This new system of authority, based on Gospel teaching and genuine co-responsibility as demanded by Vatican II, will affect all circles in the Church: Pope, Bishops, Bishops Conferences, Priests and Laity.  Click here to visit them !

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vatican II then and Now

Just been introduced to a fascinating website - A Call to Action.  There's an excellent article by Gerry J HughesSJ called "Vatican II then and now."  I reproduce it below but it can also be read by clicking here.

Vatican II, then and now

Gerry J Hughes SJ

I have been asked to do three things, very briefly: to say what it was at the time of the Council with really caught my attention and inspired me: to explain that I think we are not doing all we can, today, to live up to those expectations; and to make some practical suggestions. All in ten minutes! Briefly, then:

What really caught my imagination was the teaching that the Church was not in the first instance an institution but a group of people each responding to his or her call from God, each trying their best to respond to the particular charisms which the Spirit gives them. Everyone has something special and personal to contribute. This tied in with the respected tradition of Catholic Social teaching, the ideal of subsidiarity.

Decisions should be taken at the lowest possible level at which they can be implemented. As a Church we grow from the bottom up, as it were. And the first thing which people –parishoners, priests, bishops and the Pope – all need to do is to try to find out and share in what the Spirit is saying to the people. As John Henry Newman said, to consult the faithful is an essential preliminary to formulating what is the teaching of the Church.

I think this whole drive on the part of the Council has stuttered, and, in a strange way, I think the explanation has to do with fear. At every level of the Church, communication is stifled by fear. Ordinary Catholics are hesitant, to say the least, or find themselves totally unable to tell priests what they really think about this or that issue, what they really need to help them live and work and pray as committed Christians. Priests are often afraid to tell others – their parishoners, or their Bishops – what they really believe, for fear of incurring rebuke or disapproval, or even of being denounced to, sometimes sacked by, higher authorities.

It is especially hard for Bishops to share their own personal views, or to listen eagerly to the insights of their priests and people. They are locked into a structure which is authoritarian – even bishops have been removed from office simply for inquiring what the people in their dioceses think about this or that. This climate of fear would be damaging to any institution; it is even more damaging to the People of God. And, as is always the case, the first casualty in an authoritarian system is Truth, because the very mechanisms for us humans to seek for truth, to try to discern where God’s Spirit might be leading us, depend upon a respect for scholarship, theological and secular, and on a climate of respectful and free interchange of ideas.

In my own experience, ideas are not freely exchanged except in a situation in which honesty, confidentiality where necessary, mutual respect and a willingness to listen and learn, set the entire climate. I can recall one meeting I was at, many years ago, when the Bishops of England and Wales asked to meet with a group of moral theologians to talk through some pastoral issues. Everyone listened to people who at first shot would hold a different opinion from their own: there was a total equality in the contributions sought from Bishops and theologians. Cardinal Hume had the great quality of enabling and encouraging that quality of sharing without fear, and a willingness to go where it led.

I also remember a discussion on various aspects of sexual ethics with a group of ‘ordinary’ Catholics, who had never ever heard themselves tell one another what they really did think about various issues. They did not all agree with one another, but they listened, learnt, and enjoyed the experience. The only priest present other than myself said to me afterwards, ‘I shall never speak of the ‘simple’ faithful again.’ It takes a little work and a lot of encouragement to create an atmosphere which makes that possible.

On a day like today, it is no doubt wonderful to share the highest ideals we have. But they cannot be even seriously discussed, modified, enhanced and realised, in a climate of fear. In practice, then, I think we need to start comparatively locally say in a parish, or a deanery, or a diocese, and try to recover the art of listening to, encouraging and learning from one another, ‘giving permission’ to each other to speak from our hearts without fear. We need to realise how hard it is for Bishops, priests and everyone to feel able to say what they most personally believe, and to try to make that easier for one another.

I was asked to suggest two questions which we might discuss in groups. Here are mine:
1) Do you agree with me that the root cause of much of our malaise is a deep-seated fear of being disapproved of, denounced, or even dismissed from our jobs?
2) Do you agree that we need local meetings, small enough to encourage trust and openness, between people and priests, people and Bishops, priests and Bishops: and that it might be easier to start with topics which are not matters of doctrine: for instance, how to train people to run liturgies where there is a shortage of priests; our response to the new translation of the Mass; penance services; how to get the best out of parish councils?
Humble beginnings, indeed: but if the sower never even dares to go outside, the prospects of a great harvest are nil.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Former Anglican minister becomes first Liverpool Catholic priest to be ordained with a wife and young family

Article by Peter Guy of the Liverpool Echo :

A FORMER Anglican minister with a wife and young family is the first in Liverpool to be ordained a Catholic priest.
Father Jonathan Brown needed special permission - known as a “dispensation” - from Pope Benedict XVI to be exempted from the traditional vow of celibacy.
And there is nothing to stop him from having more children if he wishes. Only if Fr Jonathan outlives his wife will he have to follow the strict rule of celibacy to which all Catholic priests are bound.
Although it is not unusual for former Anglican ministers to convert to Catholicism and become ordained priests only a handful in the whole country are married and with a young family.
Fr Jonathan was ordained by the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, at Christ the King Church, Wavertree.
The ceremony was witnessed by Fr Jonathan’s parents, his wife Kara and their two children, Rosey and Matthias.
Fr Jonathan said: “Being the first married priest in Liverpool is special because I’m first but it’s pure historical coincidence.
“My clerical celibacy is deferred as I’m a happily married man. But I can’t re-marry in the event of my wife’s death. Until that point my life remains as normal. We will live as a Catholic family and theoretically I can have more children.”

He admitted his conversion had proved “very difficult” for many of his former colleagues and for his parents who remain staunch Anglicans.
"He said: “I know it has not been easy for them. I’ve turned my back on a stable life with a good income and a nice house, and given all that up.”
His first role as a newly-ordained priest will be working as a chaplain at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust.
He could go on to be a parish priest although – because of his status as a married man with children – he would be known as a “parish administrator”. In practice however he can carry out all the functions of a Catholic priest.
He said: “The Catholic church doesn’t recognise my Anglican ordination so I had to be ordained again as a Catholic priest. But it’s not simply a rubber-stamping exercise. This is far more momentous and far more of a life changing moment.”

Read More clicking here