It is seven years since the Tablet published the letter from Derek Reeve and a number of fellow priests under the headline A Call to Action. The name stuck and ACTA was established the following year when we gathered at Heythrop College for what proved to be our inaugural meeting.
I had the privilege of giving the opening address that morning in October 2012 and off and on, have been involved ever since. I concluded my remarks that morning with these words.
" Maybe the time is fast approaching when we need to take stock once again and ask whether we should begin to make preparations for a further Council. We would be failing our grandchildren if we allowed the fruits of the Second Council of the Vatican to fade through our lack of concern. We do indeed have a duty to make the case, in faith, for the Church as it is today and for what it might become tomorrow. How do we make our Church the Church of our children? "
Since then, ACTA has made a significant contribution to the Church in this island, establishing groups within dioceses, sometimes with more success than at others, but a voice nevertheless.
Above all we have asked for dialogue, dialogue with our priests and bishops, dialogue with each other. That was, and must continue to be a central position of ACTA. Our mission statement makes this explicit.
"We are a group of Catholics, some of whom are ordained, brought together by our love of Christ's Church and our anxiety about its future. Still inspired by the Second Vatican Council, we want to contribute fully to the life of our Church so that we may be a more effective sign of the Kingdom of God. To do this, we believe that an atmosphere of openness and dialogue both with each other and with our church leadership needs developing. Accordingly, we aim to supply channels of free and frank communication. We desire to help create a climate of trust and respect for all where this dialogue may be fostered."
One of those important channels of communication with each other has been the Google Group, offering an opportunity for those in ACTA to express honestly held, sincere opinion on issues that concern us. We must however be sensitive in how we comment for, once written, a text can develop a life of its own, irrespective of our original intentions. All of us have had the experience of being misunderstood. There may well be implications for ACTA if remarks made by individuals on the Google Group go beyond the initial group as they so easily can with the press of a button. It can be a cause of discomfort and embarrassment. Let us care for each other and all will be well.