As a result of a meeting of reform groups in Austria last October, which was attended by Sean McDonagh and myself, I became part of a network of reform groups. We have a skype conference every six weeks or so, and we plan to organise another gathering in about a year’s time, hopefully in Ireland. Currently the group is made up of Helmut Schuller from Austria, Markus Heil from Switzerland, Klaus Kemper from Germany, Deborah Milavec from the United States (representing the network of reform groups there) and Ian McGinnity from Australia.
Part of what we do is to report on developments in each country, in order to keep the energy of the reform movement flowing. Other issues we are working on include the following:
- The Vatican survey. We worked on a simplified version, which was used by various reform groups, including the ACP.
- A Letter to Pope Francis; This was published on the ACP website. It was a very successful letter, in that it got support from millions of people around the world.
- A Network of Solidarity: We are investigating ways in which we can give international support to people, lay or clergy, who are in any way censored by the Vatican.
- We have produced the first draft of a Bill of Rights for people within the Church.
- A big issue of concern in the U.S. and the Continent is the closing of parishes due to lack of priests. (This has yet to become a reality in Ireland, but it is not far down the road). We are looking at ways in which parishes can resist the efforts of Church authorities to close them down, and how they might be able to continue as priestless parishes.
- This network is now only six months in existence. The idea originated as a network for priests associations, but it has already expanded to included lay groups, and the hope is that others will become part of the network.