23/09/2019 Irish Examiner By Noel Baker

A bishop has given his support for a specially devised delegation process for the ordination of women priests.

Killala diocese, made up of 22 mainly rural parishes in north Mayo and west Sligo, undertook the process with the blessing of Bishop John Fleming as part of its efforts to arrest the decline of the church in the area after an analysis of priest numbers indicated that, by 2037, the 22 parishes of the diocese would be served by five or six priests.

A spot survey of all Masses over three consecutive weekends indicated that attendance overall was just 29%. A steering committee made up of representatives of the four deaneries — two women, one lay man, and a priest in each — as well as a priest co-ordinator and Bishop John Fleming looked at how to explore issues within the diocese.

According to Fr Brendan Hoban, a member of the Association of Catholic Priests, Bishop Fleming gave a commitment that whatever suggestions emerged that were within the diocese’s capacity to pursue would be incorporated into diocesan policy.

He said that whatever suggestions emerged that were not within the diocese’s capacity would be forwarded to the Irish Episcopal Conference and to the Apostolic Nuncio who would be asked to forward them to the relevant authorities in Rome.

Initially, 1,500 people across the diocese were surveyed anonymously on a range of broad questions, with the feedback then being processed by the Institute for Action Research in Kerry and ultimately turned into proposals that were then voted on by a representative assembly.

That 300-strong diocesan assembly, which included delegates from the 22 parishes, then voted on a range of issues, while 120 people participated in 10 focus groups.

The vote found that:

85% backed the view that priests be allowed to marry;

81% supported priests who have married being returned to active ministry;

80% backed women being ordained to the diaconate;

69% agreed that women be ordained to the priesthood.

The delegates voted 86% in favour of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and those excluded from the Church being changed to reflect the inclusion of all people regardless of sexual orientation, marital status, or family status.

“The position was it was about what we would do in the diocese,” said Fr Hoban.

“There was no point us deciding that we were going to ordain women or married men as we don’t have the ability to do it, but we could control organising lay ministers in a different way. The agreement was that whatever came up out of the survey was going to be put in a set of proposals to delegates from each parish.”

The action programme based on the findings will get under way next January.

“It was a respectful adult consultation with the people,” Fr Hoban told the Irish Examiner. “This is new in the sense that it is completely open-ended, nothing ducked that people wanted to talk about.”
Findings from an Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll of farmers and rural families found that 74% of respondents said religious services have been cut back or curtailed in their local area and that 73% backed the ordination of female priests.

Last year, an Irish Examiner special report showed at least half of the 25 archdioceses and dioceses around the country have seen an aggregate fall in the number of priests serving within them in the past five years, while almost half have parishes which have had to reduce the number of Mass services they can offer.


This consultation of the people of a diocese was a step in the right direction.

Of course one Irish bishop, or indeed all Irish bishops do not have the power to abolish celibacy allow the ordination of women or invite laicised priests back into ministry.

That authority is vested in the Pope and The Vatican who no signs of doing any of these things.

I am a small part of Independent Catholicism and I and many others have ordained women, brought laicised priests back into ministry and do not require celibacy.

I ordained a woman, Mother Frances Meigh, 21 years ago this month.

At that stage she was 67 and is now 88 and still ministering.

Flemming and Hoban TALK about it.

I have DONE IT.

Actions speak louder than words.

Neither Flemming or Hoban will live to see woman priests in the RCC in their lifetime


Pat, you are independent as you say and therefore do not represent a legitimate Catholic Church authority to do what you have done. However, you are to be admired that your own life story and experiences have brought you to a very different place which could be viewed as correct and progressive. If you acted with a greater charity, less self righteousness I believe you’d attract more clergy. Our view of ministry is a constant evolving idea and priesthood as lived needs a complete new vision and understanding. I do not believe in throwing out centuries old teachings and traditions as a means of drawing people back to the Church. We have to find a new balance, a new model, one which respects tradition and teachings but which is also capable of creative imagination where all who wish to belong to the Christian community, of which ever denomination, must be embraced. If Jesus is the one we look to for our ideals and perfect humanity, I believe we can no longer exclude those whom we consider “unworthy”. People in our parishes in a whole lot of different ways are gifted, talented and blessed. Why should any one person or ‘authority’s say “you’re not welcome”? All of us in the Church must reflect with greater compassion towards all who are with us and who care about their Church community. I personally have no difficulty with women deacons, priests, bishops, married clergy and no difficulty in desiring for and making real a more welcoming church for all…. It’s just a huge shift to make but I now believe we need to renew ourselves more in Christ’s ways. That is the challenge and you, Pat, are trying to do this. Change happens all too slowly in the Church and because I believe I belong to a world wide family community of the Catholic Church I cannot just do my own thing! But no one can stop me from imitating Christ……


I like a great deal of what you say.
Often, to rebuild a house you have to knock her back to the four walls.
The first stage of rebuilding is demolition.
I am a very small part of the ball and chain gang.
That gang is never memorialised.
But they played their part.


Pat. When you retire your so called Church will finish. Does that make anything you say relevant?


Your suggestion may not happen. It would be my intention to consecrate at least one bishop if The Oratory Society were to continue.

Can anyone really know how they will be remembered or what they may have achieved?

I hope the Lord will think that I achieved more good than wrong.


Goon Fleming yaboya I never thought you had it inya . What’s legitimate church hi. Does God need permission to change human rules. Do it John and see what happens. The bottom line is that bishop is boss in his own territory hi. R(om)exit might be a long way down the line but it is a possibility hi


Indeed. And Mother Francis has celebrated 8,000 Masses in her chapel of The Suffering World.


“85% backed the view that priests be allowed to marry.”
I imagine the question did not cover same-sex marriage, Bp Pat, but it would obviously be in the minds of the respondents given the widespread homosexuality amongst bishops, priests, and seminarians.


What has happened in Ballymena. Has god deserted the town? A couple of years ago the Wright family donated a mouthwatering £15 million pounds to the God squad involved with the green pastures church. ‘God is Good’ I was told by a follower of that congregation.
Where was that God today with the news of Wright’s impending demise?
Please spare me the detailed theological arguments about what god does and doesn’t do. I know. His time is taken up with Brexit!! Lol


Maybe this is karma time for Wrights poor record on cross community employment and DUP support?


Killala is a strange Diocese. Reminds me of North Korea. Everyone knows there’s much going on there but no one ever talks about it.


I am sure the survey was carried out in good faith, Bp Pat, but I cannot ever imagine a Mrs. Martin, a Mrs. Nichols, or a Mrs. Cushley for example. It is contrary to all common sense.


Lol! Vincent appreciates everything I do for him, and I like to think I’m supporting him in his ministry.


2.02: ….Supporting him in his ministry….would that be making tea and scones or giving him a love bath????


But could you not imagine a Julian Martin, a Cecil Nichols or a Gaylord Cushley. I can 😊


Somewhat stereotypical “gay” names from out of the 1970s. Please God, we’ve moved on from that era where a man in a pink shirt was suspect.


2.25: Pat, there may becacsense of gay, girlie humour inreferring to each other as Cecil, Gaylord or Julian but It’s all a little dated and frivolous – carry on like girlies in private or in the bed but not elsewhere! Thanks…


5.20: Pat, you’re entitled to believe that you have done some good – more than you think perhaps! It’s not the big, public gestures or the big provocative comments that you’ll be remembered for but the quiet, hidden acts of kindness, care and mercy….all real components of “Love of God and of neighbour.. “. We all make mistakes, are flawed and yet we can still make a difference….all of us, even the most broken.


“The greatest part of a good man’s life, are his little, unrembered acts, of kindness and of love” (Wordsworth)


Here I am on my big chair with a wee Bush to hand and watching matters industrial unfold in that DUP heartland of Ballymena. Just a few miles down the road.
It may interest Seven Towers Sammy that there are rumours in Ballymena at present that many employees of Wrightbus haven’t been paid in September.
They needn’t worry. I’m sure Jeff Wright and family, the god fearing family that they are, will dip into their own pockets and do the Christian thing and pay their workers. After all they thought nothing of lashing out millions to a local church.
Sometimes the god in north Antrim can have a sense of humour.
Anyway back to the tele.


Would a man priest be in trouble if he road a woman priest do you thinks they will all be lessybeans like all woman who take mens jobs


8.26: Pat, this is a gutter comment, not at all funny or appropriate. You shouldn’t facilitate these type – phillistines, subcultured, uneducated, planks – let them fulfil their filthy minds on YouTube filth!!!


So the people have spoken and they are a total product of their culture and time, how could they have said anything Catholic or supernatural ? They are agnostics led by agnostics, let them have everything they want it’s not the Catholic religion it’s a decayed facade left over from Vatican Two , why can’t women be priests there aren’t any priests only ministers who preside over the assembly during the Supper of the Lord let them enjoy all of it the shine Jesus shine zip up alb fruit of the vine and work of human feet rubbish


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