To my knowledge no decision has yet been made on the future of those bishops mentioned and criticised by the Murphy report. It's not my place to say what they should do but I do know that many of my confreres believe they should go. Indeed there's also a feeling that the Eucharistic Congress should go elsewhere too and that Rome should take it from Dublin as a sign of its disapproval of all that has happened here.
It is good news that Rome is set to act and that at the very least we will get a pastoral letter on the matter. It is to be hoped that the Holy Father will take actions that will bring a new healthy, direction for the Church.
I am trying to keep my own anger in check though, anger not just at the abuse, the negligence, the incompetence, and the cover-ups, but also at our government and its ham-fisted, partisan, and unjust handling of the budget. Again the poor and the workers (public and civil servants in this case) are asked to foot the bill for the incompetence of the bankers and the government. I know that this is an opportunity for me to face my own passions and to learn how to keep peace in the midst of turmoil.
One area where my eyes are opening is in regard to the Irish Church. Everyone says its 'conservative' but I don't think so. Now 'conservative' and 'liberal' are of course imports from the secular, political world and open to a broad variety of interpretations. I merely wish to point out that there are different kinds of liberal and conservative in the Church: doctrinal, moral, pastoral etc. The Irish Church is doctrinally conservative. There are no major wide-spread denials of the central doctrines of the faith, especially among the practising faithful. But morally and pastorally, like much of the Church in the Western world, it is liberal at least behind closed doors. After all how much flak did +Willie Walsh get for his recent statements? I have seen too many dodgy liturgies and watched liturgical abuses, heard whacky lectures, and put up with so many unorthodox opinions that I can no longer accept this Church can really be described as 'conservative'. It is certainly not in a healthy state. Over recent weeks I have heard, from practising Catholics, opinions in favour of homosexuality and abortion (don't mention contraception!). I have been challenged for asserting that the clergy are called to a higher degree of holiness than the laity (and that the laity should expect us to be that holy) because after all didn't Vatican II say we were all equal? The arrogance of earlier clergy and the negligent teaching of more recent times has done much damage. No wonder people scramble to look at the Sun at Knock or to see the pseudo-visionary at Achill.
Somewhere along the line between 1850 and 1950 the Irish Church lost its way. It went from an oppressed to a dominant majority, from poverty to riches, from hedgerow to the centre stage. In that time the nation went from subjection to the British to an independent, if dirt poor, Republic. As a nation and a Church we came to believe our own propaganda - that we were once again to be a nation of saints and scholars (and republicans). This Church sent huge numbers of missionaries throughout the world just as the country sent out emigrants. Yet the seeds of our present trouble were planted and took root in those years. Jansenism and liberalism (encased in Republicanism) came here from France in the beginning and they have been around since. If the former dominated in the beginning the latter has bloomed since,if secretly. Where the moral corruption began is hard to say, probably it was always and will always be with us. Yet how did it get into the clergy and thrive there? Why wasn't it dealt with? There's even the suggestion that a clerical paedophile ring operated, and not just in Dublin, and that it may have had its origins in seminaries like Maynooth and Clonliffe. A cancer took root and now part of it is exposed. Might I suggest that the secret liberalism of the Irish Church lacked the moral courage, conviction and self-belief to confront this evil as it grew. It could not conceive of the inhumanity involved in child abuse and when confronted with it simply tried to bury it (and save its precious reputation in the process).
Today over lunch a colleague at school told me that the Catholic Church does nothing for him, has no relevance to him. I was lost for words. At the time all I could say was that for me it is about Christ first. It is also about truth and whether it can be known and experienced. Christ is Truth made flesh and He established His Church. It belongs to Him not us (as I recently had to point out to a fellow priest and friar). It all belongs to Him. It's not about us, it's about Him and one day each of us must give an account of ourselves to Him. Who'd want to be an Irish bishop on that day?