This from our friend in Ireland, Patrick Mitchel, a professor and leader. He has no desire to bash the Catholic Church, but he’s as grim as many. Let me say that this is a serious, serious issue, and while I want the proper procedures to be followed in the Vatican and beyond, the focus here must, must, must be on the victims of abuse and proper justice for the perpetrators of sexual violence.
So what is the future of Catholicism in Ireland?
And this raises the question of ‘How can reform come to any church?’
[and again let me say here I am not wanting to 'bash' the Catholic Church when it is 'down'. Nor am I implying that evangelical or Protestant churches have everything right - far from it. I believe the gospel is good news and that churches need to be good news - whatever brand they are]
Cardinal Brady also spoke of the desperate need for a ‘new beginning’ and mentioned at least four sources of that renewal:
- Listening to the word of God
- Listening to the Spirit
- Humbly dealing with the enormous hurt caused by those who have abused and the ‘hopelessly inadequate response of the Church to that abuse.
- A ‘sincere, wholehearted and truthful acknowledgement of our sinfulness.’
[Revealingly, he openly asked whether there would be a place for 'those who have made mistakes in their past to have a part in shaping the future?' and added that he would be 'reflecting carefully' over Easter. I may be wrong of course but I suspect he will resign.]
Too often the Word has been sidelined by tradition, ritualism and sacramentalism. Too often the Spirit has been marginalised by hierarchy, human power and institutionalism.