One story details a brewing protest against the new Roman missal, to be introduced in parishes in Ireland later this year. About 100 people from the Association of Catholic priests and lay members of Pobal and We Are Church met in Portlaoise to discuss the new missal, which purportedly contains ‘sexist language.’
The Association of Catholic Priests has recommended that ‘priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the new missal.’
It said that they are ‘baffled’ that:
“while generous provision has been made for the Latin Mass, no provision is being made to accommodate the far greater number of people who will have difficulty for different reasons with the new missal”.
In his address, Fr Brendan Hoban outlined some of the difficulties with the new missal:
- How as priests do we deal with the anger of our people?
anger that with so much to fix,
we should insist on repairing what isn’t broken;
anger that, once again, they haven’t been consulted;
and a mixture of anger and embarrassment that
we insist on shooting ourselves in the foot at every opportunity.
- How are we to deal with the continuation of exclusive language?
it’s a problem for women but it’s also a problem for men.
Women who are hanging on to their membership of the Catholic Church
by their finger-tips will feel outraged and disrespected by the return to exclusive language.
What are we expected to say to parents whose children are finding it harder and harder to maintain any kind of connection to the Catholic Church and who will feel that they have been gratuitously insulted by the continued use of exclusive language?
- How do we deal with the confusion of our parishioners as they struggle with inserts into texts they are familiar with for the last 50 years?
Last week at mass, a small booklet was distributed announcing the new missal. I said to my husband that I had heard rumours of controversy around the new missal, probably because the Vatican had not consulted the Irish church about it before imposing it from above.
My husband replied: ‘the Catholic Church doesn’t do consultation.’
That may well have been the case in the past, but I had been encouraged recently by tentative signs that the church hierarchy was at least trying to listen to the people in the pews. Take for example the various listening processes happening through dioceses in Ireland, or the recent Apostolic Visitation to the Irish Church.
Maybe it would be a step too far to think that these processes constitute consultation, but it seems reasonable to expect respectful listening from people purporting to be leading others after Christ’s example. Especially when their leadership has presided over an abuse scandal of global proportions, a scandal which has seriously damaged the church, as well as traumatized untold numbers of vulnerable people.
The second story outlined the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin’s plea for the Vatican to hurry up and provide some formal feedback from the Apostolic Visitation.
Archbishop Martin was speaking in Dublin at a conference on the upcoming 2012 Eucharistic Congress. He said that:
“The longer the delay in advancing the fruits of the apostolic visitation, the greater the danger of false expectations, and the greater the encouragement to those who prefer immobilism to reform, and the greater the threat to the effectiveness of this immense gift of the Holy Father to the Irish Church”.
And that he was:
“Impatient to learn about the path that the apostolic visitation will set out for renewal for the Irish Church so that our renewal will move forward decisively. At the same time, I am also becoming increasingly impatient at the slowness in the process, which began over a year ago. This is not a criticism of the Holy Father. It is an appeal to his collaborators.”
The Apostolic Visitation team is reported to have submitted its reports to the Vatican in April.
I have no idea how long it normally takes the Vatican to respond to such matters. But it seems to me that Archbishop Martin’s words are urgent because he believes that ‘the secularisation of Irish culture is very advanced.’
Archbishop Martin thinks that the church must act swiftly and with justice if it is to truly support its members, let alone retain any relevance in the wider Irish culture. But with every passing day, Irish Catholics can legitimately wonder if they are really being heard.
(Image, logo of International Movement, We Are Church)