Early in 1995, a group of U.S. bishops submitted a document to the [U.S.] Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Mission and Structure. It appeared in ORIGINS (19/6/1995), a publication of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference:
‘The need to find ways to have more open discussion in a climate of trust is best illustrated by considering current issues in the church that seem not to be addressed openly. These include the priest shortage, priest morale, ecumenical issues, school funding, women and equality in the church, the relationships of youth, Hispanics in the church, better preaching, better liturgy, better relationships with the poor, the relationship of the conference with Rome, the public face of the church on abortion, the annulment process, the loss of Eucharist, alliance of the right wing with some fundamentalist leaders, contraception, sexual ethics, the kind of candidates being attracted to priesthood, anticatholic feeling surfacing in the United States, the ordination of married men, rumours of a high percentage of homosexual men in the seminaries and in the priesthood. In particular, the issue of paedophilia among priests continues to create a very serious credibility problem for the U.S. bishops because of our perceived unwillingness to fully address and explore the reasons for this terrible tragedy.’
These bishops were not silenced, and many of the issues have not gone away. In fact some of the issues have increased in urgency.
Desmond O’Donnell omi, Dublin