I recently participated in a lively interactive panel about people and priests working together for renewal and reform in the church.
Two priests, Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery and Fr. Gerry Bechard, and two laywomen, Deborah Rose-Milavec and me, talked about our experiences of working in various clergy-lay coalitions. (In case you were wondering, nuns are laity, and we're proud of it.) The room was packed for this presentation at the annual Call To Action conference on Nov. 8.
Flannery founded the Irish Association of Catholic Priests and was midway through a 15-city U.S. tour, giving talks on conscience and his own experience of being unjustly censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was punished for saying what biblical scholars have taught for decades: Jesus did not institute the priesthood at the Last Supper. This apparent lack of biblical literacy on the part of curial officials is surprising.
In Jesus' time, priests were responsible for slaying animals for temple sacrifice, not for presiding at eucharistic meals.