|Sometimes change means a certain destruction: October 2009|
That time for me has marked huge changes. The most obvious one is in the governance of our schools. There now are no Christian Brothers on the ground teaching in any of their schools in Ireland and their average age is in the mid-seventies, so in the next ten to twenty years or so they'll have all died off. They have now handed over the management of their schools to a lay trust called ERST. They have also handed over millions in Euros and in property to the government as part of the redress scheme for child-abuse which happened during their time in control - as well indeed they ought by any moral or ethical standards. The Institutional Church in Ireland is firmly in retreat, and this is no bad thing, as all institutions become bastions of self-preservation which end up choking the life out of the little people who make them up while allowing the bad eggs within them to wreak havok either on poor innocent children or on gullible Joe public as was the case with the Banks. Indeed, this is where change is happening, and it is so good that it is happening. Look at it this way - the Institutional Church has fallen. The Banking Profession is thoroughly discredited. The Political one is equally discredited with scandal after scandal of corruption hitting the headlines. Then, the medical profession has had its own scandals - also covered up - not on the level of the ordinary GPs, hospital doctors or nurses but at consultancy level where maverick doctors were allowed to go unchecked to wreak huge damage on innocent patients, e.g., Lourdes Hospital Drogheda. I'm sure there are many skeletons in the cupbords of other professions, too. It is no harm that there has been a practically universal fall from grace on the part of these powerful institutions which sought only their own self-preservation, the covering up of scandals and the duping of the common citiizen.
Hence, it is with some little joy and a lot of hope for the future that I read reports such as the following in today's Irish Times. Firstly there is a good report from the Merriman Summer School where Fr Kevin Hegarty spoke about the Church's sexual theology being in 'deep crisis.' I know Kevin as a very intelligent and sensitive pastor and equally intelligent and sensitive writer. He published some articles for me over ten years ago in a brilliant magazine from thge fringes which he then edited called Céide. Kevin was always a maverick, and before that he used to be editor of the official Church monthly called Intercom, but he was sacked from that by Cardinal Connell, the Archbishop of Dublin for being far too outspoken. A conservative editor was put in immediately. Kevin, being his liberal, provocative and prophetic self, was saying things the institutional Church did not want to hear so they sacked him and banished him to a small parish in the west of Ireland. I know some few other priests to whom this has happened too. The Roman Catholic Church is a centralized and centralizing institution which does not like dissenters from mainline dogma. A taste of what he said can be had by reading the following excerpt:
Fr Hegarty, who was ordained in 1981 and has ministered in the parish of Kilmore-Erris on the Mullet Peninsula, Co Mayo, for the past 15 years, said he had spent three years as editor of Intercom “before the priests found me out”. It was his greatest experience of disillusionment with the institutional church. For someone shaped by the influences of democracy, free speech and academic dialogue, the church had been a cold house in the past 30 years, he said.“Since the 1980s the church has been in the grip of a restorationist mentality. The ‘glad, confident morning’ that followed the Vatican Council has long faded into the distance. Reform has stalled, and some liberal theologians have been silenced.... In appointments, passive docility to papal teaching in all its aspects is valued way above creative fidelity to the work of ministry in today’s complex world." See this link here: HegartyHe went on in his talk to call for both married and female priests, a total review of the theology of sexuality and a new openness to the modern world which was called for back in 1960 during Vatican II. Anyone who has studied theology as I have or who has been a thinking member of the Catholic Church will know that this openness was simply never implemented. Happily, this has only a little interest for me now as I ceased being a practising Catholic when I was forty years of age. I had been a student religious in my young days and even possess a first class honours STL which, if one were still a believer, one could possibly lecture with a third level. Anyway, I have long lost my interest in theology and fill that empty space with reading widely in philosophy now. However, the academic training was wonderful and challenging, and I must write about it in future posts sometime.
On the very same page in today's Times, the Religious Affairs Correspondent, Patsy McGarry has an interesting article on one octogenarian lady's call - a Mrs Jennifer Sleeman - for Mass to be boycotted on Sunday September 26th in protest at the Vatican's treatment of women. This lady is a grandmother and one of her sons is a monk in one of our monasteries - the Benedictine Abbey, Glenstal, Co. Limerick. See this link here McGarry There is also an interesting article in The Limerick Leader which interviews her son Fr Simon Sleeman, OSB who calls it his mother's gig, but not his, and that he does, of course, support her. See this link Sleeman
|Tracks in the Mud: February 2009|
Perhaps, all the scandals which history has forced upon us in Ireland is no bad thing at all. The dusting off of old files, the opening of long secret documents to public view is renewing to say the least. When everything is out in the open at least we can deal with those issues revealed. When they are brushed under the carpet as the old cliche has it, it's then that things fester and smell or rather stink to high heaven, to use another well-worn cliché.
Now, who said history was unimportant? Let us learn from our mistakes. Let's not hide away the ugly things in dark corners. Doing so will only lead to trouble, to the pollution of vulnerable minds and souls and to the enslavement of generations to poor mental health.