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Leaders of reform groups to meet in Limerick

By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 April, 2015

tony+flanneryNext week will see the largest gathering of international reform leaders in the Catholic Church attend a three-day conference in Limerick, the first such event ever hosted in Ireland.

The participative conference, which has been organised by censured Irish Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery, also represents the first time such a large gathering of leaders of the Church Reform Movement have met in one location.

According to Fr Flannery, “The main focus of the event will be the International Network of Reform Movements, with the aim of supporting Church reform, both at the level of structures of authority and at the grass-roots.”

As it is the first time that the group will come together, time will be spent sharing experiences and ideas on Church reform, he said.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, the priest who was censured by the CDF in 2012, said there was “No predicting what will come out of this. We are trying to leave it as open as we possibly can to let it develop. I would hope that by the Thursday we would have a few very clear and definite statements on different aspects of Church reform that we have agreed on.”

“Some of the topics expected to be discussed throughout the week include sharing perceptions of the reform agenda of Pope Francis, the future of parishes and communities, women’s equality and how to communicate with the Vatican,” he added.

Workshops will be facilitated by Austrian and Canadian leaders and participants will come from North America, South America, Asia, England, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland.

These participants include Sr Jeannine Gramick from the USA, the founder of New Ways Ministry, who has been rapped a number of times by the Vatican over her support for gay rights.

It also includes Martha Heizer, head of We Are Church Austria, who was excommunicated by the Vatican along with her husband, Gert Heizer, for holding ‘private’ Masses without a priest present.

Other participants at the event include Markus Heil, a married lay Deacon who is the leader of the reform movement in Switzerland, Noel McCann, a spokesman for the Association of Catholics of Ireland (ACI) and Fr Helmut Schüller, head of the Austrian Priests Initiative.

Representatives from Australia, India and Italy will also attend.

The conference is not open to the public but according to Fr Flannery there will be an open session at 8pm on Thursday, 16 April in the Radisson Blu in Limerick, where some of the participants will speak of their experience of Church reform and members of the public are welcome to attend this event.

“On Thursday evening people will hear the results of the three days of reflection and hear from speakers from different parts of the world – so they will learn a great deal about the situation of the Church and the reform movement around the world,” Fr Flannery said.

CatholicIreland.net understands that no member of the Irish hierarchy has been invited to the conference.

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