Saturday 20 January 2018

Gerard O'Regan: The church's foot-soldiers often preach of tolerance but the hierarchy itself seems devoid of it

Gerard O'Regan

THIS past Christmas Eve, as befits some people who come under the banner of that cringe-inducing phrase 'a la carte Catholics', I attended a Gospel Mass in St Francis Xavier's Church in Dublin's Gardiner Street.

I had never been there before. But a friend spoke fervently about its gospel choir. "We always go there at Christmas. For some reason the church can be very atmospheric and spiritual at that time of year. But you have to arrive early so as to get a seat. It's normally packed on Christmas Eve,'' he warned.

And so, we arrived in plenty of time, and got a spot near the choir in one of the front pews, when the building was still quite empty. Then slowly and steadily came the soft footfall of people arriving out of the December night. Sure enough, almost without warning, the church was indeed "packed''.

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