Bishop Worlock of Portsmouth, Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, criticised unrepresentative priests' organisations when addressing the National Conference of Priests last week.
Speaking at the fourth annual
meeting of the N.C.P. in Birmingham, Bishop Worlock said: "I am sure that the N.C.P. could be more representative of the clergy than it is. But I know of no body more representative of the priests of this country as a whole.
"At least you are not claiming representativity based merely on a subscription list to the occasional publication of an association which, so far as I know — though I may be wrong — has neither open annual meetings nor free elections.
"The N.C.P. has the support of the Bishops' Conference and I believe that, if we will persevere, the authenticity of the representation will steadily increase."
The conference voted to accept the following motion on what the meeting was all about. It was proposed by Fr. Kevin Finn with a discussion group and adopted by the 90 members of the conference, only five voting against it.
"Nearly eight years after the close of Vatican II we feel we must express our concern at the undoubted sense of frustration felt by many within the Church today, lay people, priests and religious, who see themselves as in some way alienated fron the Church's life and mission.
"There are priests who find their relations with fellowpriests formal and inadequate, with the fullest exercise of their priesthood hampered by. traditions bearing little relation to today's conditions. There are
religious troubled as to how they may best give Christlike service within the present restrictions of religious life.
"There arc laity who feel deprived of apostolic opportunity. or who find the way closed to sharing to the full in liturgical worship. And for many young people there are frustrations and misunderstandings as they see the so-called institutional Church to be out of sympathy with their expressions of idealism and forms of prayer.
"Clearly this is only one side of the picture. We do not pretend to be able to measure its extent, and it is true that much has been achieved. Nevertheless we are anxious that account be taken of this undoubted feeling.
"So we ask for a change of vision and a change of practice. We want to see a change at parish level especially, since that is where the Church exists most clearly for Christian and non-believer alike, We hope to see the vision in the document 'The Church 2000' translated into fact."
The Conciliation Procedure to settle disputes between bishops and priests in a friendly manner suggested by the Canon Law Society at the request of the Bishops, was welcomed with reservations by the National Conference. Fr. Mark Swaby, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, in a background paper circulated at the Conference, argued it would not help settle major disputes or any concerning theology.
Peter Nolan—page 3