High Time for Lumen Gentium 37!

Total Inertia – almost certainly due to a divided Irish Bishops Conference – reigned supreme in the Irish Church in early 2019, as a clericalist model headed into oblivion.

Exhausted priests, absent youth, parents totally out of the Catholic educational loop, grandparents confined to Eucharistic Adoration, open dialogue out of the question – as it had been – tragically – for decades.

And then – in April 2019 – ‘To follow Jesus closely‘ – a bishop’s pastoral that might just have passed muster in 1944 – from Down and Connor – apparently designed for a readership that had experienced no disillusionment whatever.

And designed for a readership that could still – apparently – look only to ordained priests for witness to faith in a loving God, and for help in discerning the common priesthood of all the faithful!

As though – to take just one example – Michael McGoldrick had needed a priest to tell him what to do in 1996 when his only son – also called Michael – was murdered by the LVF.

What on earth is the point of telling ten-year-olds at Confirmation that they are now Temples of the Holy Spirit – and treating all lay people thereafter as though a direct prayer to the Holy Spirit – by the same ‘Temples’ – will always be futile – when there is so much evidence to the contrary?

Why were Irish bishops still writing pastoral letters that implied that the Irish People of God were as brainless as fencing posts – and that the Holy Spirit was locked up in the bishop’s basement?

What exactly did they think was going on in the heads of the people who did go to Mass?

And why on earth did they still NOT WANT to know?

Every shock / horror experienced by Irish Catholics since 1992 could arguably have been prevented if – in 1965 – the Irish Bishops of the time had implemented Lumen Gentium Article No. 37 – visible in full elsewhere on this page.

My article in the Irish News of July 4th, 2019 – A Priesthood of All Believers? – was just for starters. As a member of the steering group of the Association of Catholics in the Church I had no difficulty in persuading its other members of the need for action. We set to work to make a case for the immediate honouring of Article 37 of the Vatican II Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium in Ireland right away – and throughout the universal church as soon as possible – copperfastened by the canonical adjustments needed to rid the church forever of the distrust and demeanment of lay people that has given us this potentially terminal crisis.

We presented that case, in person, to the October 1st, 2019 meeting of the Irish Bishops Conference in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

The reluctance of bishops to implement Lumen Gentium 37 is well understood – a fear of bitter division and even possible schism due to tensions over ‘change’.

But all of us are always on the move in this life. This writer has moved to a centre position grounded on the Apostles Creed – as a story of liberation rather than as a straitjacket – and on the necessity of constant prayer, even as I write and discuss.

Since the Lord of the Gospels is always present whenever we Christians meet, none of us need or should ever seek to overbear, while all now will surely be attentive to the influence of the Holy Spirit when we meet – as regards both truth and unity.

Many times before in the history of the church had disagreements among Christians been reconciled in that way. So who was to say that the power of that Holy Spirit could not overbear those differences now – and make us collaborators yet again – in the face of the greatest crisis our church had seen in over three centuries? We did not know then how soon that crisis was to intensify with the sudden onset of a respiratory pandemic.

The progress of this campaign can be followed on the ACI website.

Sean O’Conaill

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About Sean O'Conaill

Retired teacher of high school history and author. Now editing here and on acireland.ie - and campaigning for immediate implementation of Article 37 of Vatican II's 'Lumen Gentium'. A fuller profile can be found at 'About / Author' from the navigation menu above.

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