Listening Process in Down and Connor: New Post on Slugger O’Toole

imageI have a new post called ‘Listening Process in Down and Connor: What are People in the Irish Catholic Church Saying’ on the Slugger O’Toole blog. It describes my experience at last night’s ‘listening session’ at Clonard Monastery in West Belfast.

9 thoughts on “Listening Process in Down and Connor: New Post on Slugger O’Toole”

  1. I oppose the idea of a ‘listening seminar’. Bishops are there to teach, sanctify, and govern. In the post-Vatican II Catholic Church (or what passes for the Catholic Church) bishops instead see themselves as ‘representatives’. In the 50s that would NEVER have happened.

    Ugh….I hate Vatican II. The 60s destroyed the Church.

  2. To draw an analogy, this is like the Lord asking the people He is about to heal, what is wrong with them, what they need etc…

    This exercise is, in that light, insane.

    Chin up Shane – if you live in Limerick you have the ICKSP! I’d nearly move there myself. Then all this madness wouldn’t affect me.

    Right so, I’ve just finished reading Glady’s post… My outburst is unpublishable.

    *face palm*

    (The only glimmer of hope is that there seems to have been a few sane individuals present, as indicated by the last paragraph.)

  3. I posted this comment under the name ‘skull kid’ over at the slugger blog:

    ”This is mad. This is so painful looking on at the further destruction and disintegration of the Catholic Church. At this rate, we will have a situation 10 years from now, whereby true Catholics are in a few isolated and disperse locations where Mass is offered, maybe even in secret, whilst the new church (separated from big bad chauvinistic male-dominated Rome, of course) will have completely taken over, with their women priests and lesbian unions. This is insane. Completely and totally and utterly insane.”

    It has not been approved… yet… if it ever will be…

  4. When the little boys have finished shrieking; “Ugh, Vatican Two, ugh, girls, ugh, broccoli!” perhaps we can look at what this is and what it isn’t. I imagine that the term ‘listening process’ was chosen very carefully – it isn’t a decision-making or even a consultative discussion. Any change that happens will be very slow and almost certainly very slight. To some extent it is probably a public relations exercise, but we can hope that it will be so in the wider sense of the phrase, by improving and deepening the relationship between the hierarchy and lay Catholics rather than simply as a piece of spin doctoring. More profoundly, listening is exactly what the bishops, as all in authority, need to keep remembering to do. Jesus listened; the Gospels are full of stories of his keeping quiet and letting people tell him what they need (“Lord, if you want to you can make me clean”) and what they, sometimes foolishly, want (e.g. the Sons of Thunder asking to sit at his side in heaven). “Which of you,” he says, “when your child asks for bread …” not “when you decide in your wisdom that it is the correct time for your child to receive bread”. It is a right, natural and loving thing for a parent to listen to a child, for a teacher to listen to her pupils, and for Christian leaders to listen to their people. I think this is a positive and potentially very helpful initiative by Bishop Treanor, who comes across as a thoughtful and sensitive man, and I hope that it goes some way to heal wounds both within and beyond his own diocese.

  5. From a Catholic perspective some of the suggestions are highly offensive. ” Standing up to Rome ” being particularly crass & vulgar. Was it St. Patrick who said – ” as you are Christians, so you shall be Romans “. So a double whammy there – insulting both the Pope & our patron Saint !. I’m surprised no one suggested more folk Masses to draw in the punters !. It’s quite ironic that at the very time when we have a brilliant teaching Pope, instead of taking his lead, the Catholic Church is going down all sorts of irrelevant & facile cul-de-sacs. It is my opinion that large sections of the Catholic Church in Ireland are being intellectually infantilised. There is a wealth of deep/enriching teaching material out there, just waiting to be tapped into. Not to despair though. Pope Benedict is correct in that a smaller more authentic Catholicism is the way forward. In the meantime, lets just grin & bear it – & offer it up.

  6. Spot on Eric.

    The attitude, overtly, of the ACP stinks. They think the laity are a bunch of dimwits with the IQ of a sheepdog! They arrogantly assume that the laity have no intelligence, have no access to a dictionary, and have no capacity to learn, so ‘concerned’as they are about the new, corrected translation of the Mass. As bad as that attitude is, the average priest treats the people with little more respect – how many sermons are empty, humanistic, ‘feel good’, back-slapping tripe? It’s as if we haven’t a brain in our heads. I was reading some beautiful reflections on the parables by Pope Benedict in his book, Jesus of Nazareth vol. 1, and I thought to myself – ”This is beautiful, simple, and profound – why are our priests not teaching the people the Gospel?” Instead, we get backslapping, jokes about GAA, footballs in the sanctuary (a few weeks ago in my own parish) poetry, and all sorts of other things which have nothing to do with the Gospel.

    I am convinced that the crisis is not simply one of a bad attitude on priests part; I am certain that the priests have been malformed in the seminary such that they, by and large, do not really know what the Gospel is, what the purpose of the Mass is, or what they are even supposed to be doing. This mal-formation continues to this day. I have inside knowledge of what goes on at Maynooth.

    As Eric says, this is rabbit holes – we have the answers and all the solutions in the teaching of Holy Church. We have the direction given by the Pope, but instead, we are going down rabbit holes asking the dead rabbits what do they want, and inspecting their droppings.

    I ask Tanya this: It’s all very well have a listening exercise, but can you assure me that I will be listened to should I approach my priests about the liturgical abuses they introduce to Holy Mass, or the dire quality of the sermons? Will he listen, or will he write me off with a clericalist classic one-liner – ”Who are you to tell me, a priest, how to say Mass?” Can I recommend books to my priests so that they will improve their sermons? If it wasn’t for that fear in me, I would have approached my priest before now. As it is, I don’t know what to do to try and get them to see sense. I’m not at all confident that they are capable of listening or having the humility to take on board what might be said to them.

  7. Martin – interesting that you were considered too extreme for the Slugger blog. That’s quite an accomplishment, to have a comment not accepted on Slugger. I still wonder why Gladys lets you get away with venting your diatribe on her blog.

    Your latest attack on priests you don’t agree with reminds me again of the comments from
    Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on the pope’s message to catholic bloggers, he: “said it was certainly correct to direct the pope’s exhortation to some conservative Catholic blogs, YouTube channels and sites which, with some vehemence, criticize bishops, public officials and policies they consider not Catholic enough”. See

    You seem to take a pick n’ mix attitude to this Pope, as well as what teachings of the church (Vatican II) you choose to follow.

  8. Tanya, with all due respect my parents listened to me. But they did’nt indulge my childish whims. I dont agree with you Mammy/Daddy, I want this toy, that toy, oh & that one over there, that the other boy has. Instead I got firm but fair/loving guidance – not self indulgence. Listening is all very fine, but Biishops & parents are entrusted to guide/teach. To give you an analogy. The late football manager Brian Clough was asked what he did if a player questioned his tactics. His reply was that he took the player aside, they had words for 5 minutes, & the outcome ?. They agreed that Mr. Clough’s tactics were right !. Would that our Bishop’s were as forthright in showing leadership/guidance. Jesus did’nt enjoin the Apostles to become a debating society. He enjoined them to teach authoritatively in his name – I am the way, the truth & the light.

  9. Dear Paul,

    Please tell me which of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council I reject. Bear in mind this was a pastoral council, which in the words of Cardinal Ratzinger, defined no new dogmas. I’m all ears.

    Secondly, the comment I posted on Slugger was not ‘extreme’ nor in any way abusive. Gladys was gracious enough to let e post it here – it’s the third comment down on this entry.

    I suggest that why the slugger blog rejected my comment was because they have a definite policy: to allow token comments by Catholics but to have a majority of comments by dissenters and non-Catholics.

    I praised Gladys on this blog because she allows comments by everyone, without censoring comments to produce a ‘consensus’. Maybe Gladys might have a word with the slugger police to see why my comment was rejected.

    Meanwhile, you can outline to me what bits of Vatican II I reject. Have you read the documents?

    If you look at the lives of the saints, you will find plenty of saints that were very happy to point out the wolves among the flocks, be they priests, bishops, or laymen.

    It is indeed possible to “be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:32). St. Francis de Sales said that it is a act of charity to cry wolf when the wolf slips into the sheepfold. There are many wolves within the Catholic fold – would you not agree? Pervert priests and covering up bishops, as well as clerics who teach heresy to their flocks and abuse the Holy Mass…

    I can’t help but notice that St Paul and St John are not models of sensitivity and respect when writing about heretics and persecutors. Is there no place for anger in being a


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