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Voices from the pews

pew_01When Cardinal Sean Brady invited the faithful to tell him their concerns for the Church, he did not specify how this was to happen. In Belfast Alan McGuckian SJ and Nuala O’Loan have visited parishes for “listening evenings”. In the South Dublin parish of Ballybrack, Brian Grogan SJ accepted an invitation to facilitate a similar listening process. On 22 November 64 parishoners gathered to consider four issues, namely: 1. Where am I at? 2. Renewal. 3. What one thing can I do? 4. Parish-specific concerns and suggestions. Parishioners wrote their concerns about renewal of the church on postcards which were addressed and mailed to the Cardinal. The ‘Dear Sean’ messages were as follows:

1. Have 1 day this year where the laity would come together to show solidarity with the victims of abuse. Cardinal Sean Brady to call this.
2. Facilitate 2-way communication between yourself, the Bishops and the Laity
3. Do away with the pomp of the Vatican and the Hierarchy. The pomp of the Vatican is a scandal and the large number of new cardinals appears unrelated to the cleansing of the Clergy
4. More singing please
5. Resign, with respect
6. Youth is lost to the Church. We must find a way to include them. They are the next generation
7. If not up to the task, resign
8. Hallo, God be with you and listen to everyone
9. Proclaim right from wrong (to Caesar what’s Caesar’s and to God what’s God’s)
10. Accelerate involvement of the laity in the Church
11. Get off your high horse and join the real world
12. Provide centres for young people where they can have a chat about life and get to know how good a Christian life can be
13. Christ laid down his life for the Church. Priests and Bishops must be prepared to do the same. We must all love Christ with all our hearts and souls, His Church, His beloved bride, our neighbour and ourselves. Foster, encourage and promote lay movements and associations
14. Listen to the people, especially those hurting and alienated
15. Mission to show Christ to our neighbours, Mass outdoors
16. When will Church recognise the role of women in the Church
17. Have these cards available at the church to give the laity a continuing opportunity to provide feedback
18. Lay men and women both need to take part, but a lot being left to the women
19. Respect the Pope, his humility and respect many others among us who are doing a great job.
20. Everyone must be respected. Ask young and old if they feel respected.
21. Have a day to pray together for laity, to be able to assist our Priests of the parish
22. Move into this century, open communications from the Top to all
23. Revisit Vatican II, changes never completed. There needs to be an end to Celibacy and allow women priests
24. Simplify your dress, use Christian names and inclusive language
25. Pray for you and thank you for all you do. Jesus is always with His Church. Ensure that teachers in school are faith-filled and practicing Catholics
26. Implement the ordination of permanent Deacons for all Dioceses
27. Give us a more focused set of Rules and Regulations. At the moment there is too much left to the individual
28. I wish that the message of Jesus Christ was developed/delivered in a public setting for all the people to hear and see, Eucharistic processions, prayer and singing in public, e.g. carols
29. Please increase and encourage the following: (1) talks, workshops, teachings, seminars so as to increase our understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit, and (2) get priests to preach the Gospel i.e. open up the meaning of that day’s Mass readings at every Mass
30. Please review the ‘airy fairy’ curriculum for young catholic children. No wonder they do not have any interest in the Church
31. Make concrete the recommended changes of Vatican II. Empower the laity, married clergy, women priests, parish councils. Strengthen faith input in schools
32. The lost generations? Youth not participating. Exclusion of some parishioners in the parish
33. There are fantastic riches in the Church. Pope Benedict is a wise and spirit-filled leader. Continuing what Pope John Paul has begun, he reaches out to the young people of the world through world youth days. We deprive our young people of these riches by being so negative about the Pope and the Church
34. We need Divine inspiration to tell us how to get parents to want to learn – so to pass the correct teaching of the Church to their kids
35. We need to find ways to connect with teenagers and allow them a voice in discussions
36. Let go of the power, most priests will not
37. Keep up the good work, hang in there
38. Would it be a profitable idea if the Sunday homily could comment on the current programme on the TV
soaps which seem a harmful moral upbringing for youth
39. Love cast out fear, so before it is too late let go of all the fear that resists change and that closes your mind to new approaches. Don’t put celibacy before the availability of Communion in the sense of community and Holy Communion for the faithful. Jesus never said married clergy were not acceptable, or women either – it’s nearly too late to change anything
40. Train people to communicate with the media
41. Pope Benedict, ORDAIN WOMEN NOW
42. Get real
43. Give greater appreciation in the Church to the role that women can make to enhance the place of the
Church in the world
44. We should teach our young children to pray more in the home together. We should pray more ourselves
and ask God to rekindle our faith constantly
45. Thank you for inviting us to write to you. My suggestion is to have a National Synod to hear the people of God and move forward
46. More participation like singing, as our Anglican Brethren do
47. We must return to basics, to loving God, and God loving us as we are We must value the gift of our faith and share it with others
48. More devotions, benedictions, outdoor manifestations of Faith – processions of Blessed Sacrament as of
old, Masses to be celebrated outdoors also. We have a mission to show Christ to our neighbour
49. Please accelerate the involvement of the laity in the work of the Church and the spread of the Gospel
50. Abandon your titles and your medieval, princely robes and emblems which are symbols of power,
privilege, royalty and superiority. Cease the practice of automatically awarding doctorates to newly
appointed bishops. Stop constantly looking over your shoulder to Rome
51. I think it would be useful to review the documents of Vatican II with the laity. I understand that only a
percentage of the changes were implemented and those were the most superficial ones
52. The structures in the Church need to be radically reformed. I would like to see a much simpler Church, in
line with the Gospels, with much more involvement of Religious and Laity, even within the Vatican
53. If we are going to spend a lot of money having a Eucharistic Congress, I think we also need to do
something spectacular to take poor people off the streets, otherwise it will mean little
54. I fear the Church being divided between the people who want change and those who want to remain the same. There is nothing wrong with tradition but it needs to be brought into the 21st century
55. Since we are taking Anglican priests who are married into our Church, why don’t we invite our own priests who left and got married back into Ministry? Some may come back. I fear that the Church will become so irrelevant that it will die out
56. Encourage our Bishops to reform the catechesis in the schools (primary and secondary). Deficient and defective RE (Religious Education) programmes in the schools have failed to hand on the faith since mid-70’s. Sermons on the readings re social justice – teenagers need to hear them
57. Possibility of having ordained deacons – surely this is the way forward
58. My concern is vocations and the exclusion of women and married people
59. Promote debate & discussion about celibacy / married priests.
60. Promote debate & discussion about greater involvement of women in the church … deacons to priests
61. Develop activities to encourage young people to become involved and lose their scepticism of the church and its leaders
62. Make better use of church properties/grounds for the involvement of the whole community for activities not necessarily ‘religion’-based
63. Encourage people to take communion from the hand, more hygienic all round
64. Publish more ongoing information about proposed and/or up-coming events such as the Eucharistic Congress – bearing in mind that some people may not have access to on line or print media.
65. Scrap the requirement that all would-be parish priests must give an undertaking that they will not do
anything to promote the ordination of women to the priesthood
66. Preach more sermons on morality such as telling the truth, not committing perjury, respect for the most
vulnerable in our society, stealing, and the immorality of abusing alcohol and of excessive speed while driving
67. Priests and bishops should more openly and publicly express their views on contentious issues, such as some of the contents of ‘Humanae Vitae’ priestly celibacy and the ordination of women to the priesthood.
68. Priests should stop looking over their shoulder at the bishop.