Wednesday, November 23, 2011
ON CERTAIN SUGGESTIONS ABOUT THE CHURCH IN IRELAND
While surfing the net, catching up with news, I came across, via New Advent, this article from George Weigel . I know Mr. Weigel is respected in some Church circles but what gets my blood boiling is that an American writer or pundit thinks that he can comment on the state of the Irish Church while not actually living here. The Irish Church has problems. These are deep and fundamentally theological and spiritual problems. They also have administrative dimensions but I am not convinced that his root and branch pruning would work. We Irish in Ireland are a people deeply aware of our roots and our place in the world. We have our own spirituality within the Catholic tradition and it is from within that tradition that the healing of Ireland will come. Only a return to the penitential way of our ancestors (most visible in Croagh Patrick and Lough Derg) will reawaken our hearts. We need to become a people that weeps for and with the abused, for and with the abusers, for those who failed and for the renewal of our Church and our land. I am not sure even those outside Ireland of Irish descent would properly grasp that kind of Irishness. As for his suggestion that an American bishop be sent well that beggars belief. The Irish clergy who went to America went to serve the Irish Catholics in America and built up the American Church as a consequence. An American bishop sent to Ireland, even one of Irish descent, would be coming to a different culture and from the start would be seen as an imposition and an insult. It would be interpreted as a punishment. Neither am I convinced that resizing would help. That might make it easier for the Holy Father and his advisers to find bishops for Irish Sees but it would not necessarily mean a boon to Ireland. Ireland really is a parochial country where there can be 'micro-cultures' to parallel our micro-climates. Just spending a year in a parish in Cork as a deacon taught me that. Some reorganization is needed. Some rationalization could help. But unless there is a fundamental shift at a theological and spiritual level (and changing structures will not do this) all that change will be cosmetic. For Ireland to change it must come from within. It must be a return to our roots. That insight came to me on retreat while reading Irene Hausherr's Penthos. Only if we turn to Christ and plead for His help will there be real change.