THE largest and most vocal representative organisation for RC
priests in Ireland has called for radical change within church
structures by the new pope.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), some of whom say they
have been "silenced" by Rome, also welcome "the growing realisation
at all levels in the Church of the need for reform and renewal in
the Church all over the world, but not least in the Vatican
In a statement, the Association said: "We hope he will not
reappoint the existing heads of congregations within the Vatican,
or at least that he will give them only temporary appointments, and
that he will bring new people with fresh ideas and attitudes into
the system. This, we believe, is the only way that the acute
problems in the Curia will be put right."
A Redemptorist and one of the founders of the ACP, Fr Tony
Flannery, said on Monday that a scandal concerning the founder of
the Legionaries of Christ, the late Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado,
could cause damage to the RC Church.
"This man founded a large and conservative religious order, and
also a lay institute, Regnum Christi. . . He died in 2008, and it
is now clear that not only had he fathered children by two
different women, but, much more disturbing, he had a record of
sexual abuse, including seminarians, and even some of his own
children. He was also possibly the greatest fund-raiser the Church
"His order, the Legionaries, is immensely wealthy, and he poured
enormous amounts of money into the Vatican, including reputedly
funding most of John Paul [II]'s foreign journeys.
"If John Paul did know that there was, at least, great suspicion
about this man, why did he present him as a model? Or was it that
he, old and frail, was ignorant of the facts? If so, who was
responsible for not warning him, to prevent him from making such a
terrible mistake? Or is it possible that the Pope did know, but
chose to ignore the facts?
"There must be people in the Vatican who know the answers to
these questions. John Paul has already been declared 'Blessed', and
there is a possibility that he may be canonised. When the truth
eventually emerges, and if it is the case that John Paul was
actually covering up for Maciel, and that comes out after
canonisation, it will do enormous damage to the Church."