In the morning I had a phone call from a priest reader who was very concerned about the direction was taking in this country. I think quite a few of us concerned - the lukewarm approach to the Pope's visit intensifies that concern. He said we should start something like Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. I agree with him we really do need something like it, the problem is: who would organise it?
I think maybe, following Professor Beatie's example an open letter might also help. I am more than a little concerned that the address of the Pope's address at the ad limina of our bishops seems to have been buried, so what do think of this? If you are a priest and you agree, add you name and address. All the quotes are from the Pope's address.
We, priests of England and Wales, wish to express our joy at the forthcoming visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Britain.
We welcome the many wise things the Holy Father said to us through our Bishops on their ad limina visit earlier this year which are of particular significance to the health of the Church in England and Wales, such as "the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice" and the need "to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal".
More than ever, with the proximity of the Papal visit and anxious for its success we recognise especially the need "to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales". Concerned for the Church's mission we to see a great need in England and Wales to ensure "that they [not only the lay faithful but we priests] are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission". We also acknowledge the importance within our national context of what His Holiness said about the Magisterium, "In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free."
We wish to thank His Holiness for encouraging our Bishops to hold up to us "an example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel", and also for urging them encourage the faithful "to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry".