Within a matter of months we have witnessed two Catholic Bishops overruling the conscientious decisions of local groups of Catholics .
The first overruling occurred last August when Bishop Crean of Cork ‘convinced’ the parish council of Killeagh, County Cork to withdraw an invitation it issued to Father Tony Flannery to take part in its annual ‘Spiritfest’ .
The second incident occurred when Bishop Drennan of Galway objected to the allocation of 45.000 Euro by the fund committee of the Galway St. Vincent de Paul to the LBGT community in Galway. It has now emerged that secret manoeuvring behind closed doors has led to the committee being forced to resign over the allocation.
These episodes show that lay Catholics who have remained not only faithful and but also involved at local level in the Irish Catholic Church, in spite of all the clerical sex abuse scandals and Episcopal cover-ups, are still treated as people without any rights to have a conscientious opinion by these Bishops. I am not casting judgement on those good people who continue to serve on Catholic parish councils and charitable agencies but rather sympathise with them as they face monumental opposition to any pastoral decision they take that does not meet Episcopal approval.
It is time that lay Catholics cast aside their fear of the crozier and stood up to what in effect is bullying behaviour by some bishops and refuse to be cowed down any longer by what is in effect dictatorial behaviour of these pastors. Bishops have to realise that the non ordained are not in the Church just to make up the numbers and to pray, pay and obey. If they don’t start treating the non ordained as people of god with a sensus fidei and dignity bishops will discover more empty pews in the future. They have to realise that we are not sheep ready to roll over when they utter a command. Maybe it’s about time they started following the sheep !
27 November 2015