Saturday 3 December 2016

Desire for changes in the church won't stir Holy See any time soon

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

Pope Francis Photo: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz
Pope Francis Photo: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz

It's the ordinary Catholic in the pew you'd feel for, hearing about the alleged carry-on at Maynooth, learning, perhaps for the first time, that there is a "gay dating app" which trainee priests were allegedly in the habit of availing; and that the usually liberal Archbishop of Dublin seems to consider St Patrick's College - once the powerhouse of Catholic Ireland - such a worry that students have to be despatched to Rome to acquire their pastoral and theological training.

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The ordinary Catholics - the mild and thoughtful women and men that I sometimes sit beside at St Theresa's Church in Clarendon Street on a Saturday evening when I'm in Dublin - will surely feel confused, dismayed, and disappointed that the situation seems such a mess and a muddle. When the Archbishop of Dublin makes a point, and his brother bishops blatantly refuse to back him - well, where is the leadership in a crisis? Where is the management? Where is the steady shepherd who guides his flock?

Many of those older churchgoers will remember a time when the Catholic Church - when Maynooth itself - seemed as solid and commanding as any of the great institutions of Christendom, when its power was so awesome that politicians would regularly kneel to kiss a bishop's ring.

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