Report from Fr Tony Flannery:
I have just been listening to three women talking on ClareFM (Fri.9.15am) about the proposed introduction of the permanent diaconate in Killaloe diocese.
What happened in Killaloe diocese is interesting. When Kieran O’Reilly became bishop he began a listening process right around the diocese. He got Gerry O’Hanlon to direct it. It was done really well, and their was a high level of participation. A report was drawn up, which summed up the issues that were raised during the process. When I read the report I was struck by the strength of the critique of the current state of the Church, and the call for change. But mostly I asked myself, where do they go from here. It was still in the time of Pope Benedict, and many of the changes the people looked for were not even open for discussion by the Vatican.
Mainly, I believe, due to this problem, the process seemed to run in to the ground at this point. No meaningful follow-up happened.
It is always a dangerous thing to ask for peoples’ opinions, and then not to be seen to take them seriously. That can lead to anger, disillusionment and disengagement. (e.g. the Womens’ Council in Dublin in the time of Des Connell).
Recently Bishop O’Reilly announced that he was proceeding with the introduction of the permanent diaconate in the diocese, -confined of course to men.
This is the context of the interview with the three women on ClareFM. All three spoke wonderfully. They had a long record of involvement in their parishes, and in the diocese. They expressed deep hurt and disappointment that, after their long years of service and the extensive listening process, the Church authorities came up with an answer that excluded women.
All three were well educated in the faith, were deeply committed, and wanted to continue to serve the Church in every way they could. And now they were being excluded.
On the face of it, it seems like a desperate ‘own goal’ by the Church.
I think Kieran O’Reilly must immediately withdraw his proposal for the permanent diaconate. The three women were clear that this further layer of bureaucracy was unnecessary. Lay people, women and men, could be trained to do the work that is proposed for the deacons.
If he continues with his proposal, I hope that no man in Killaloe diocese will apply for a position from which women are excluded.