Today on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence, Marie Collins, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse, shared her thoughts on the Pope’s refusal to accept the resignations of Bishops Eamon Walsh and Raymond Field. Collins, who has gained considerable respect for her willingness to speak publicly for victims, and for her attempts to be reconciled with the Catholic Church, said that this was ‘the end of any hope that my church will change.’
When asked by presenter William Crawley if she was now leaving the Catholic Church, Collins replied:
You can only hold out hope for a certain length of time. … These men just don’t get it and never will get it. … There’s no care, really, for people.
Crawley underlined the point that the Pope should be included among ‘these men.’
I am sure that many share Collins’ perspective: after all that has happened, the high-level leadership of the Catholic Church – ‘these men’, in Collins’ words – just aren’t listening to the people in the pews.
Earlier in the week, I blogged about Jennifer Sleeman, a Co. Cork woman. She is calling on women across Ireland to boycott mass on September 26th, as a protest about the way the church treats women and has handled the abuse scandals.
Most of the comments I receive on my blog come from men, but thus far all of the comments on the Sleeman post and my post on the Pope’s refusal to accept the bishops’ resignations have been written by women.
I’m pleased that these events have prompted more women to share their thoughts on what’s happening in the church. To take just one example, Rosemary Quinn wrote:
Jennifer I applaud you, not least because you are speaking as an older woman and I belong to the same category. The Church believes that we older women are happy with the status quo. Not so. I want my grand-daughters to have role models within the ministry and not just in the pews. I love my faith but have felt alienated for a long time. A patriarchal Church is not one that honours women. Let’s rejuvenate it.
Also on today’s Sunday Sequence, Dr Aidan Donaldson criticized Sleeman’s boycott. He said that while it captured the ‘popular zeitgeist’ it was ‘fundamentally misguided and extremely dangerous.’ He said he objected to the Eucharist being used as a tool in political debate.
But I just don’t read Sleeman’s action, and what sounded today like Collins’ announcement that she is leaving the Catholic Church, as attempts to score points in a political debate.
I think that taking steps like boycotting mass and quitting the Church are more like acts of desperation. This is what people resort to when the lines of communication have been shut off by the people who cling oh-so-tightly to power.
(Image of Marie Collins from the BBC webpage)