Despite many recent dramatic developments in the Catholic Church – the revelations about the scale of horror at Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, the Pope’s early ‘retirement’, the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh – it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about the Catholic Church.
On Monday, BBC Northern Ireland religion correspondent William Crawley tweeted:
I dread to think what new Catholic crisis will hit the news tomorrow (it’s going to be that kind of week, I sense).
Well, it’s only Tuesday, so we can all wait with Crawley to see what else transpires. (And for those of you enthralled by the new Pope election process, you can do no better than follow Crawley’s Twitter feed).
Or you can pass the time by going to a talk on Thursday at 7.30 pm in Fitzroy Presbyterian in Belfast, ‘The New Pope: What do we Expect of Him?’ by Fr Eamonn Breslin, CSsR. An initiative of the Fitzroy-Clonard Monastery Fellowship, it is described as:
‘an inter-church conversation on the ministry of the Bishop of Rome at this historic time in the life of the Church’
Earlier today, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired Archbishop of Westminster, talked about a ‘historic crisis’ in the Catholic Church and called for reform:
“The pope is essential as a centre of unity and truth but he also cannot rule the Church without real association with the bishops. As you know, there have been troubles in recent years, and scandals. Well, this has got to be addressed and especially the pope’s own house has to be put in order.”
Similarly, last week ‘more than 160 leading Catholic scholars worldwide … signed a “Declaration on authority in the Catholic Church” that calls for change in church governance.’ Some desired changes are elaborated on more fully in today’s ‘Rite and Reason’ column in the Irish Times, where Fr Gabriel Daly (one of the Irish signatories), writes:
Reform of the institutional church is an act of fidelity to the Gospel.
I think it’s likely that the ‘institutional church’ will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis unless the leadership gets serious about meaningful reform – specifically, about actually implementing Vatican II.
But today I also was reminded of just how it is that the church continues through such crises through the small acts of the faithful.
Opening my Facebook newsfeed, I saw this post from Jon Hatch, who is putting the finishing touches on his doctoral dissertation at my School. (Last year, I posted his reflections on ‘Why am I a Catholic?’) With his kind permission, I reproduce it here:
There is so much media talk about an ‘historic crisis’ in the Catholic Church. I was reflecting this morning that I feel no crisis at all. Last night, as is my Lenten custom, I said evening prayers… I’ve broken my fast several times and felt a little guilt and abundant grace… I rose early, made a cuppa, lit a candle and incense and felt the rising sun in silence… I’m reading a beautiful book of poetry by Ernesto Cardinal… I’m working on my bibliography later. I’m not having any crisis- the Vatican is. Bureaucracy, machinations, intrigue and officiousness on their part does not constitute an emergency [to me] …
(Image sourced from Jon Hatch)