Association of US Catholic Priests Holds Annual Assembly

The annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) concludes today at the University of San Diego in San Diego, California. The theme for this year’s assembly was “Unity through Synodality.”

The assembly began on June 12. After a morning retreat led by Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM, titled “Responding from a Contemplative Heart: Living Synodality in a Polarized World,” Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of the Diocese of San Diego officially welcomed attendees.

Dr. Massimo Faggioli, full professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University and columnist for Commonweal and La Croix International, provided the evening’s keynote, “The ‘Synodal Process’ in the USA and in the Global Church: A Geography of Hope.” The talk analyzed the US synodal process and how it relates to the future of the US Catholic Church.

Dr. Brian P. Flanagan, associate professor of theology at Marymount University, delivered Tuesday morning’s keynote. Dr. Flanagan replaced originally scheduled keynoter Cardinal Luis Tagle, who was unable to attend the assembly due to his recent appointment by Pope Francis as Special Envoy to the National Eucharistic Congress of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, provided a keynote on Wednesday that centered on the question: “How do we accompany Latinas/Latinos by facing la realidad of contemporary struggles with them?”

The AUSCP noted that all three keynoters were members of the lay faithful.

Among the assembly’s items of business was the discussion of a statement from the AUSCP Mutual Support Work Group. The group was developed “[for] the support of our brothers in ministry.” It is one of several AUSCP groups working on various issues including racism, the climate crisis, gospel nonviolence, and others.

The Mutual Support Work Group’s statement, “Being Gay, Ordained, Faithful to the Church and Appreciated by the Church: Are all these possible in today’s Church?” was approved for submission to the assembly on March 23, 2023. Prior to the start of the assembly, the statement was made available to all AUSCP members and friends for their consideration.

On June 14, the AUSCP announced that the organization had given full support to the statement, which calls for US bishops “to offer fraternal, pastoral affirmation of their gay priests and their ministry.”

The statement also asks the bishops “to admit all candidates for seminary formation and priesthood according to the same criteria: a mature and balanced personality, capable of establishing sound human and pastoral relationships, a full working knowledge in theology and the living tradition of the Church, a solid spiritual life, and a love for the Church.”

The full text of the statement is available at the AUSCP website here.

The AUSCP is the largest organized group of its kind in the United States. It defines its mission as “Serving as a home for the People of God, offering mutual support and a collegial voice within our pilgrim Church and world, through contemplation, dialogue and prophetic action.”

Its 2022 assembly was held in Baltimore, Maryland. Its theme was “Let Us Dream: A Path to a Better Future.” Today’s American Catholic provided daily coverage of the gathering. The 2024 assembly is scheduled for June 24–27 in Lexington, Kentucky. ♦


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