Lumen Gentium 37 and Meeting with Bishop Donal McKeown, Fri 26th July 2019

On Friday July 26th afternoon at a most cordial meeting at his office in Bishop’s House, Derry City, I explained to Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry my intention to be present at Maynooth College, Kildare on October 1st 2019 – when Ireland’s Catholic Bishops next meet, in order to:

  • celebrate the blessing of a Christian faith that survives and flourishes despite – and perhaps even because of – the challenges that our Irish Catholic Church now faces, and to …
  • protest the continuing absence from our Catholic life in Ireland of formal regular and frequent opportunities for laity and clergy to communicate freely and honestly, as promised by Lumen Gentium Article 37 in 1964 – despite the obvious need for the frankest dialogue at this time.

On the one hand there is the deep pain of belonging to a church that continues to cause hurt to many…

The right of lay people to be heard

And on the other hand there is for many of us good reason to celebrate the blessing of a faith that can survive even the shocks of recent decades and these shortcomings of the church as it is .

It is clear that our church is both groaning for change just now, and unable  to find a clear path to that promised land.

And so my suggestion of an informal get-together of those interested at Maynooth on October 1st, 2019.

I got this here – but don’t have time to make sure there are not better alternatives. Sean O’C

Bishop McKeown heard me out, and even accepted the gift of the very first ever batch of ‘Lumen Gentium 37’ T-shirts! I had never attempted this before – the designing of a T-shirt. Bishop Donal has one of these now – but will he ever wear it?

Bishop McKeown’s hospitable welcome included the photocopying of a page from the diocesan library recording the priestly career of my uncle Tom O’Doherty, who served in the Derry Diocese from 1944-1996, lastly in Drumquin as PP. Bishop Donal also listened patiently to my summary of my own journey of faith since 1994, when I first became aware of an impending crisis in the church.

Since then further unexpected events – including a potentially terminal cancer in 2003 – have shown the indispensable importance of a faith that transcends all ideologies and philosophies. And of friends whose faith has also been tested and proven.

Bishop McKeown had already received from me by post the following short papers entitled:

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God

A suggested strategy for the recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church

I feel certain that these submissions will be respectfully received by the Irish Bishops Conference when it next meets – and look forward to meeting in the meantime with others who are equally concerned for the future. All who seek to be helpful to the process of necessary change need to feel free to join a conversation already too long delayed.

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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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