Dealing with the Bishops

Since I am now retired from my leadership role in the Association of Catholic Priests I can stand back a little and observe things for some bit of distance. One of the most extraordinary things for me is the difficulty of having any sort of real discussion with Church authorities. After five years in existence, and representing a very large body of priests, the few meetings that have taken place with bishops’ representatives have been very unsatisfactory, with no real or meaningful discussion happening at them, and there has been no contact of any nature with the Papal Nuncio. I sometimes wonder how he sees his role in the Irish Church when he continues to ignore the only substantial body representing priests.
A meeting is taking place next Wednesday (4th) between members of the ACP leadership and some representatives of episcopal commissions. This is at the request of the ACP, and is due to discuss the problems around ministry, the decline in numbers of priests, the age of those still active, and the effect all of this is having on local believing communities. The second topic due for discussion is the new missal, and the ACP will be presenting the findings of a survey of priests on this matter.
Three bishops are due to attend this meeting, Bishop Boyce of Raphoe, Bishop Drennan of Galway, and the new bishop of Derry, Donal McKeon. It is not exactly a premiership team, with Bishop Boyce already passed the age of retirement; Bishop Drennan, apart from his resolute stance when his resignation was called for, being almost totally silent; so the main hope of getting a good episcopal response at the meeting seemed to rest on Donal McKeon. But, amazingly, he came out a few days ago with a public attack on the ACP. That is some unusual way to prepare for a meeting! It is hard to see how he can be open to any ACP presentation, considering he comes in there with a very publicly stated prejudicial position.
So, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for a report on the meeting. It is a great pity, since the issues being discussed are of central importance to the future of the Church in Ireland.
The question I am increasingly asking myself is: Do the bishops in general really care about the future of the Church?