herald

Sunday 24 February 2019

Garry O'Sullivan: Now is Papal Nuncio's chance to tell the Pope what we wan t him to hear

According to my sources, the Irish Papal Nuncio will meet the Pope this week in his summer residence, Castel Gandalfo, outside of Rome.

Hopefully the Nuncio, who was recalled last week, will give an accurate picture of the depth of feeling in Ireland about the mishandling of clerical abuse cases and the strong perception that the Vatican hasn't, to put at its mildest, been helpful in its approach.

This is what I think the Pope should hear:

We, the Irish are tired of apologies that ring hollow.

The Vatican has a once-in-a- generation opportunity now and should seize it.

The step-by-step approach to renewal hasn't worked. When the Irish bishops went to meet the Pope, the one issue on which they were united was that the Vatican should not cut the number of dioceses.



GRAB

We don't need 26 dioceses or 26 bishops for a population the same as Manchester's -- this model of Church is clearly not fit for purpose and has not been so for decades. Archbishop Martin has said as much.

The Irish Church needs someone to grab it, shake it up and make it fit for purpose because it is not capable of reforming itself. The Vatican needs to do this. Irish Catholics love their Church and want it back.

We want a Church that espouses Christian values through leadership and Gospel witness and can speak to an increasingly secular society but founded on Christian ethics. As a society we have lost our way, caught up in corruption and greed at the highest levels. As a society we failed and continue to fail our children, our sick, our elderly and our young who cannot find work.

We all have to take some responsibility as a nation for our faults as a people.

It was our greed that brought the IMF to our door. There are some problems we just can't lay at the door of St Peter's in Rome.

Historians, in time, will judge the rights and wrongs of the Taoiseach's speech. For now, it is diplomats who will have to repair the strained but important relationship between the Holy See and the Irish State.

Hopefully, the recalled Nuncio will help the Vatican understand that Enda Kenny's speech, despite what some may have interpreted as harsh, intemperate language, captured the anger of a generation that has been badly let down by an institutional Catholicism peculiar to Ireland.

"Le catholicisme du type irlandais" in many ways betrayed 14 centuries of unbroken and life-giving Christian tradition. Instead of fond memories of a nurturing Church, most remember an arrogant Irish Church and a privileged clerical caste that obsessed over sexuality and hell fire and neglected the compassion of Christ.

What wasn't narrowly viewed as pure and holy for Church or State was expelled from sight.

There was a symbiotic relationship between the newly emerging Irish State and Catholic idealism. All would be nice and pure in our new Catholic idyll.

Those who said otherwise were ignored or not believed. While this Church is in the past, the memories of the abuse of power remain and many are estranged from the Church now because of lingering hurt.

The Taoiseach's speech equally resonated with a generation who have never known the Church outside of public scandals.

For over 15 years, the Irish bishops have had to be dragged to the courts and tribunals of inquiry to admit gross errors.

In 1996, we were told that the bishops had been on a learning curve. Then came Ferns. Then the Ryan Report. Then the Murphy Report and now the Cloyne Report. All along they tried to hide behind lawyers, spending millions of euro in Church funds in the process.

Even in the past few months, some Church leaders are not fully cooperating with their own National Board and are reluctant to allow reports into their dioceses to be published. Ordinary people, including clergy, are sick and tired of this.

The Taoiseach's speech was an emotional roar from much of Catholic Ireland to the Vatican for action now. The Pope in his Letter to Irish Catholics promised reform, but it is coming too slowly.

Not only that, there is a 'cabal' to use Archbishop Martin's term, of bishops actively trying to push the blame for their inaction on child abuse back on Rome.

This is an amazing revisionism and even were it true, it ignores the primacy of conscience even over the Pope.



POWER

Four Easters ago, I called on the Irish bishops to collectively seek forgiveness for all forms of abuse of power by the Church in Irish society which has scandalised so many.

Just as Pope John Paul II in the Jubilee year faced the historical sins of the Catholic Church and apologised to all those hurt by Inquisitions, Crusades and many more, the Irish bishops could have put a penitent Church on a firm road to forgiveness and real renewal.

But mediocrity and pride triumphed and they reaped that harvest when the Taoiseach got up to speak.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News