Colum Kenny: To listen, advocate and guide: what church's new role can be
The disastrous handling of the abortion issue is Catholic leaders' cue for a deep self-examination.
The failure of the Irish Catholic hierarchy to prevent the Dail passing abortion legislation is a moment to reassess the role of religion in Irish society.
The hierarchy ought to have exercised prudent judgement in politics on this occasion, just as the best bishops have done historically. Pope Francis exercised such judgment by ensuring that the canonisation of Pope John Paul II did not proceed last week without that of "the good pope" John XXIII also taking place.
The papacy of John Paul II became both an instrument and a symbol of a particular attitude towards the church that contradicted the universality that is the literal meaning of the word 'catholic'.