IRELAND: Priests told to stop calling bishops ‘spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits’

This is amusing in a dark way… sort of like a movie about a screwball dysfunctional family.

Just how dysfunctional is the Catholic Church in Ireland?

From the Irish Times and the annual meeting of the ultra-liberal Ass. of Catholic Priests:

Priests told to stop calling bishops ‘spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits’
Annual meeting of priests hears bishops ‘not all as bad as painted’

Priests must stop calling bishops “spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits”, the former Abbot of Glenstal Mark Patrick Hederman has said.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the [ultra liberal] Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Athlone, he said most bishops were “not all as bad as painted by your leadership” and accused priests of adopting the wrong approach.
“If the ACP [Ass. of Catholic Priests] is trying to change things and to galvanize the bishops of this country into positive action, [I shudder to think… action for what?!?] then even the most junior politician and unseasoned diplomat would tell them that they are going about it the wrong way.
Calling the bishops spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits is not going to encourage them to adopt your point of view.[LOL!  No, no!  Don’t give up! Surely you’ll get your way eventually.]
Defending bishops, he said: “In fact, for the most part, many of their flock would hold that they are more pleasant, less pompous, and more approachable that others from the past”.  [Folks, I promise that I didn’t write this as a satire.]
Separately, the meeting on Tuesday heard a confidential helpline for priests may need to be set up[May I also suggest “safe spaces” with stuffed animals and coloring books?]
The event heard depression was “very common” amongst priests and concerns were expressed about the number of priests dying by suicide. [They’re killin’ me, too.]
Redemptorist priest Fr Gerry O’Connor presented a summary of matters raised at seven regional meetings of the ACP throughout Ireland over the past year, which took place in 19 dioceses out of the 26 and which were attended by a total of 253 priests.
He told the approximately 250 priests in attendance at the Athlone meeting that it was clear from those regional meetings that “priests need to learn to say ‘I need help’,” and also “to say a respectful ‘No’.”  [In many cases, priests would do well to learn to say “no”.  But here, I suspect, they don’t mean “No” for Communion for the divorced and remarried couples… unless they’re not “gay”.]
There was, he said, “no tangible Church vision for the future” while priests themselves “have enormous grief about disappearing faith communities.[Gentlemen, if you are looking for reasons why they are disappearing… LOOK IN THE MIRROR.]
The relationship between bishops and priests had become “damaged and soured” with some priests feeling “bullied.
A major concern of priests was how those of their number who faced abuse allegations were being treated by church authorities.  [Okay… now this is no joke.  I know men who have been falsely accused of thing and have been treated appallingly by their bishops.]
Fr Tim Hazelwood, who was himself falsely accused, said “there was no consistency in how [ACCUSED]priests are treated.” Guidelines were not being applied correctly and he cited three recent cases as examples.
He also raised concern about funeral rights [sic … rites?] for priests out of ministry which can mean currently that there is no death notice placed in the papers and no concelebrated funeral Mass, he said.
The report from the ACP regional meetings stated that in this context, “priests statutory rights are being denied”, he said. It was also “unjust that a priest is asked to stand down on the basis of an anonymous accusation.”
A presentation was made on behalf of the ACP to solicitor Robert Dore for his “untold” work on behalf of priests, and on a pro bono basis.
Making the presentation, Fr Tony Flannery, said that “without Robert we would never have been able to establish there was such a thing as a false allegation.”  [Ahhh,… Tony Flannery.  Look him up HERE.]
Mr Gore [sic … Dore?] received a standing ovation from all the priests present.

While there is some truly serious stuff in this column, you can also read it with the lens of black humor.

It seems to me that the Catholic Church in Ireland, or what’s left of it, is now eating itself alive.

Not too long ago, I posted a story about the vocation crisis in Ireland.  HERE

At that time I wrote:

It’s a vicious circle by now, a tornado of failure, a hurricane of identity suicide.

The vocations crisis was in part manufactured. In Ireland it is so bad that it is a self-perpetuating vortex of self-inflicted wounds.

Talk about manmade climate change!

I’m reminded that Benedict XVI, in his Letter to the Irish people, recommended a return to traditional practices.

[QUAERITUR] Do you want where you live to look like Ireland?

Pray for vocations. Be willing to offer your own children. Support your priests and seminarians.

Stop coddling perversity. Return to the Mass of our forebears as much as possible. Bring back our devotions and processions and many seasonal and festal blessings. Use sacramentals. Pray the Rosary.

Do penance for sins and offenses against the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart.


So very very sad.

Perhaps if the Irish people pray, perhaps if their priests and bishops pray and pray and pray and offering penances and sacrifices, God will raise up a great saint in Ireland to help with a reform and to lead them onto a new path.

BTW… I have a hard time watching movies about screwball dysfunctional families. While there are some funny bits here and there, most of the situations are not funny at all.  They make me feel troubled and sad more often than not and I have to turn them off.

St. Columba, intercede for the Church in Ireland.
St. Brigid, intercede for the Church Ireland.
St. Patrick, intercede for the Church Ireland.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. David says:

    I may be too melodramatic, but priests committing suicide always suggests to me diabolical activity.

    [I know what you mean. However, you must remember that priests are men, subject to the problems all human beings face, with the added pressures from the enemy of the soul. Soldiers, combat veterans, and priests share quite a bit in common. There are various ways in which priests – in addition to the problems that anyone might have – can develop that feeling of hopelessness that leads to self-harm. But, yes, I think your instincts are good when it comes to priests. It is a good reminder to keep an eye on priests. Some of them are suffering and they have no one to check on them or care. Believe me.]

  2. Prayerful says:

    There is something wrong when priests of the SSPX accompanied by faithful Catholics were denied access to Knock Shrine, but a wyman Anglican pretended bishop and a Mohammadan woman, with other heretics and pagans, were welcomed by the Shrine authorities. Now the ACP and the now appalling Redemptorists (James Martin SJ is a man of holy Catholic orthodoxy compared to the pantheistic Tony Flannery C.Ss.R.) are a singularity of heterodoxy, but Irish bishops are mainly (although not all) rigidly hostile to tradition, and when Abp Martin of Dublin removed his seminarians from Maynooth Seminary after longstanding reports of near enforced heresy and tolerated homosexuality, other bishops were almost unanimous in support of it. Given that Maynooth is the only seminary in Ireland, it will take a long time for Ireland to recover. A higher percentage still practise their faith, but it is a very shallow, and ill-informed (thanks V2) Pray for Catholic Ireland.

  3. Julia_Augusta says:

    I was in Dublin last summer and attended a TLM at St. Kevin’s Church. I thought there would be very few people, mostly elderly. But the church was packed! I estimated that about 40% were under 50 years of age, and many were people in their early 30s with children. Before Mass, I went to Confession. There were a lot of people going to Confession. Could this be a sign that there is an increasing preference for the Mass of Ages in Ireland? I remain hopeful and I pray for the Irish.

  4. Kevin says:

    Please God this will precipitate change. (Polish style)

  5. jaykay says:

    You can be sure that the uber-“liberal” Irish Times, soi-disant Paper of Record, will always report on the doings of the ACP with an almost breathless lack of objectivity, in the first place neglecting to report that it represents a small minority of all Priests in this country. That’s the real context, people, much as in your country. But yeah, I’m not being a Pollyanna here – we know we have a problem, and have known so for quite some time now, decades in fact. In a perverse sort of way it’s actually good to see them criticising Bishops, in that it’s a proof that our Shepherds are doing something right if that bunch are critical of them! But I’m saddened to see Dom Hedderman among them – I hadn’t thought he was of that ilk. The Redemptorist…not surprised at all. Many of them have long been dodgy, as I know from trustworthy sources who have heard hair-raising stuff in their local church here where I am. Sad, but please believe me that it’s not the full picture – you can’t depend on the I.T. for that much anymore. Think NYT, WP, Globe etc etc.

    As an example, look at one of the articles you’ll see in the link Fr. posted referring to a forthcoming conference on “reproductive rights” in Dublin, a.k.a. the Final Solution for those untermenschen, the unborn. It can be contrasted to their “objective” reporting on the Pro-Life campaign, not least our 70,000-strong Rally for Life through the Capital last July. That’s well over 2 million in U.S. terms pro rata. All organised on a shoestring budget – no Soros funding (as opposed to the other side). O.k., I digress somewhat but it’s all connected. Again, please believe, the real situation is a lot more complex than the P.o.R. would like to have you think.

  6. frjimt says:

    Fr Groeschel is famous for noting the old Irish curse: “May you live in interesting times” Truer than ever….

  7. Bosco says:

    There are 26 dioceses here in an island with a total Catholic population of roughly 3.7 million. Pope Benedict XVI studied the matter and concluded that might be a tad too many bishops (and auxiliaries) per capita and, in 2011, was actively planning to trim some Irish pork…reducing the fat to 12 dioceses. There was much squealing by their excellencies.

    “Mass resignation proposed by one bishop in December” Irish Times February 22, 2010

    Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny withdrew Ireland’s ambassador to Vatican City (on an unrelated church sexual abuse matter…what else, the Murphy Report) distracting Benedict XVI and the rest is history.

    “Vatican has ‘dramatic’ plans for Irish Church” Irish Examiner August 13, 2014

    We have a few good priests here and (praise be to God) a number of them young and sound in doctrine. Most don’t want to have any part of them though and the ‘auld’ church.

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  10. LarryW2LJ says:

    That post title made the coffee come out my nose. Now I’m cleaning the keyboard.

    [My work here is done. On a serious note, however, you can tell from that piece that Ireland is in bad shape indeed. I saw a movie a couple years back about an older priest in a coastal town, a late vocation after the death of his wife, which was one of the most depressing flicks I’ve ever seen partly because it seems accurately to describe the atmosphere that fills the island.]

  11. tominrichmond says:

    Well with regard to the ‘spineless nerds and sycophantic half-wits’ if the shoe fits… just sayin.

    After all these are the people who have been working hard to destroy the Faith in Ireland, which was once the most Catholic of European countries. Now, a wasteland with effectively no vocations, and scandal after scandal. This crop of ecclesial leaders has rendered the Church in Ireland a non-credible voice just when the secular left is pushing hard to wipe out the remnants of Christianity in the civil law.

  12. Fr. Kelly says:

    Ireland is under serious attack from the evil one in these days.
    Indeed, it seems that the faith may be going underground as it did in penal times.
    In the absence of faithful bishops and priests, the people kept the faith alive in their homes and especially by the praying of the family rosary.
    Fr. Z, I would like to draw your attention, and the attention of this blog, to an effort that is going on right now. The Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith. Following the example of Poland, the Irish people are planning a Rosary around the coasts on the Feast of Christ the King, (New Calendar) November 26. The website is
    Being in the USA, I won’t be able to join them on the seacoast that day, but my parish will be joining with them as we pray the Rosary before Mass that day.

  13. Fr. Kelly says:

    Another Rosary Prayer request for Ireland.
    Ireland’s 8th Amendment, which protects the Right to Life of the Unborn is under unprecedented attack by the Irish government at this time.

    The White Flag Movement is running a relay of Hunger Strikes to pressure the lawmakers into watching a video of an abortion before acting for its legalization. My sister did an 18 day leg of this relay last month. Their website is:

    My brother is trying to organize a Rosary Novena from November 2 to Christmas to pray for the prevention of abortion in Ireland. It is not too late to join in. Here is his invitation:

    Please join us in praying the Rosary every day from All Souls Day November 2nd, 2017 to Christmas Day December 25th, 2017 for the protection of Irish unborn babies who are being threatened with the loss of their Constitutionally protected right to life.

    On Blessed Mother’s Birthday, September 8th,1983, the votes were counted and the Irish people approved overwhelmingly the Pro-Life 8th Amendment to their Constitution. The following protection for Irish unborn babies was thus enshrined in the Irish Constitution:

    ” The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

    For 34 years this Pro-Life Amendment has shielded Irish unborn babies from the liberalized abortion laws common throughout the rest of the world. Forces in Irish politics, the news media and society are engaging in a massive propaganda effort seeking to convince the Irish People to remove this protection for the unborn from the Irish Constitution. Irish groups such as the Pro Life Campaign ( ), Youth Defence ( ), Life Institute ( ), and Love Both ( ) are working tirelessly to try to help the Irish people see through this unjust propaganda campaign. These heroic groups need our support but they especially need our prayers. Pro-Lifers here in the USA have seen the dramatic power of prayer and especially the Rosary in changing hearts and minds on the Pro-Life issue. Please join us in our 54 Day Christmas Rosary Novena for the continued protection of Irish unborn babies. Also please help us to spread the word about this novena.

    Why did we choose All Souls Day to Christmas?

    This time period is most appropriate because it starts with All Souls Day which includes the souls of the unborn who have been killed by abortion and includes the time period liturgically which Jesus spent as an unborn baby. It also includes the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe patroness of the unborn.

  14. For a split second, i was (incorrectly) taken aback, while reading this sentence “the annual meeting of the ultra-liberal Ass. of Catholic Priests.” I stopped on “Ass.” was momentarily surprised and then realized it had a period and a capital letter so, no, not what I thought you were saying. At least not that way.

  15. dallenl says:

    I am sympathetic to conditions in Ireland but I agree that the method of expression when speaking of our episcopal worthies could be improved a bit without losing the descriptive intention. I’m sure we have all had instant negative thoughts translated to improvident words when faced with dunderheaded thinking but it does detract from the substance of what is said. I see nothing wrong with strong language to describe ideas and positions but it might be best to moderate the personal invective.

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