The Holy Father wrote in his letter to Catholics in Ireland that they should do penance in more intense way and return to some traditional practices. He focused on the healing of the Irish people and the Church. If there were ever a place in the world where a New Evangelization and for what I have dubbed Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” to be implemented, it might be Ireland.
I read today in the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, a grim story.
My emphases and comments.
‘Visitator will tell Pope that Irish Church is near to collapse’
By Michael Kelly on Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Cardinal O’Malley [of Boston] is one of several senior prelates charged by Pope Benedict with carrying out an apostolic visitation of the Irish Catholic Church following a series of highly critical judicial reports that revealed abuse by priests and a widespread culture of cover-up for decades among Church leaders.
Fr Tony Flannery, a leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests, revealed at a conference of lay people in the Irish capital that “Cardinal O’Malley told the association the Irish Church had a decade, at most, to avoid falling over the edge and becoming like other European countries where religion is marginal to society”.
Fr Flannery said Cardinal O’Malley gave a commitment to the priests’ association that he would deliver the frank assessment to the Pope in a confidential report to be submitted later this year.
Admitting to being previously sceptical about the apostolic visitation, Fr Flannery said that in light of Cardinal O’Malley’s undertaking, “there may be some gleam of hope.” [If bishops and priests preach repentance, demonstrate the same, and promote a return to solid doctrine and traditional practices.]
Cardinal O’Malley could not be reached for comment.
In a mid-November statement, the Vatican said it would issue a comprehensive summary of the investigations’ findings when they are completed.
Fr Flannery said that while the association was ready to campaign for radical change, it was apprehensive that it would be viewed as “a new clericalism”. [?!? Is there any other course? Fear of being accused of returning to “clericalism” is a fear that comes straight from the wiles of the Enemy.]
The association, which represents more than 400 of Ireland’s 4,500 priests, was formed in 2010. It has proposed a re-evaluation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and the inclusion of women at every level within the Church.
The first phase of the visitation should be completed by Easter, and it is likely the visitators will meet with senior officials of the Roman Curia in the spring to discuss what Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, described as the next phase of the “path to renewal”.
There are not many alternatives. The Church’s pastors in Ireland can surrender to modern trends, which will result in the collapse of the Church in Ireland. They can dither, which will result in the collapse of the Church in Ireland. They can do what Pope Benedict asked, and do it boldly, and save something of the Church in Ireland.
“Fear of clericalism”?
For the love of God be priests. Stop clericalizing the lay folk, look people in the eye, teach them how to pray with worthy worship, preach the four last things, invoke the help of the Mother of God, the Holy Angels, St. Patrick and all the saints, do penance and move forward despite the howls.
Will the Church lose numbers or status in Ireland? Maybe. Do it anyway.
St. Augustine preached about the sort of healing that Christ as the great Medicus sometimes applies. He said that the doctor does not stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop. (s. 80.3)