An umbrella group is to be formed to represent laity interested in reforming the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Irish Times reports that a meeting will be held in Dublin on Wednesday night to discuss the formation of the group.

The proposal is a follow-on from a meeting attended by over 1,000 Catholic laity, priests and nuns three weeks ago which called for dialogue in the Irish church.

Noel McCann, one of the organisers of Wednesday’s meeting, told the paper: “We feel that an umbrella organisation will bring greater focus and cohesion to the ‘lay voice’ calling for dialogue.

“Our aim would be to establish the organisation in the mainstream, and with the moral authority coming from a significant membership so that it can become relevant to the debate on the future reform and renewal of our church.

“The intention is to discuss the options with representatives of existing groups and interested individuals at next Wednesday’s meeting, which will, hopefully, be the start of a vibrant new lay organisation which will give a real voice to those who currently feel excluded from any form of meaningful dialogue in our church.”

More information is available by contacting Noel by email at

The Association of Catholic Priests is also planning a meeting in Mayo on Wednesday night according to the paper when it will discuss plans to set up regional events similar to the recent one in Dublin. The group now has 900 priests as members.

In a statement on the ACP website, Fr Brendan Hoban emphasised: “We do not seek to overturn the defined teaching of the Catholic Church.

“ACP wants to have a conversation about the realities of Irish church life today and about issues we believe the Irish church urgently needs to discuss.

“ACP is no threat to the unity of the church. We cherish and we value and we wish to further the unity of all our people, with our fellow clergy, with religious, with our bishops and with the successor of Peter.

“We have a right and a duty to discuss the problems facing the church. Silencing us will not make the issues go away. It will only create more unhappiness, and damage the unity of the church.

“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental Christian teaching; it is not a strange or frightening concept. The word ‘dissident’ does not describe us. We are at the heart of our church, and that is where we wish to stay. So, please, work with us; talk with us; pray with us.”