An overdue ad limina meeting between Irish bishops and Pope Francis last month was undoubtedly linked to the introduction of a raft of "progressive" measures in the country.
An estimated 800 people turned out in the priest's home village of Killimordaly in County Galway Jan. 22 to support Flannery, who had been forbidden to minister publicly since 2012.
Baroness Nuala O'Loan, a Catholic peer in the British House of Commons, told NCR she was concerned by the number of multiple killings in the U.S. "facilitated by the easy access to guns."
Fr. Brendan Hoban, co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, describes how Ireland's elderly diocesan priests are living increasingly isolated, lonely lives.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx also told NCR that Pope Francis' Vatican reforms depend on "a new relationship between lay people and clerics, that is clear."
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin confirmed that Pope Francis, or his successor, will visit Ireland in 2018 for the World Meeting of Families.
Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, spoke to NCR and called Vatican bureaucracy "very difficult."
The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have described as "profoundly disquieting" a High Court ruling that the region's ban on abortion in all, very limited circumstances breaches human rights legislation.
"I am ashamed, frankly, of my church's failure to be a champion of gay rights and women's rights," former Irish President Mary McAleese has said.
An Irish bishop urged his colleagues to establish a commission to discuss the possibility of ordaining married men.
Bishop Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore also wants the Irish bishops' conference to empower the commission to further study female deacons.
The proposal stemmed from a 10-month listening process that O'Reilly led in the Kilmore diocese, which led to a diocesan assembly and a new diocesan pastoral plan to tackle challenges facing the Catholic church, including the declining number of priests.