Thursday 19 September 2019

Are we open minded enough to roll out red carpet for Pope?

Pope Francis (Niall Carson/PA)
Pope Francis (Niall Carson/PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

In the pages of the 'New York Times' it was described as "the latest in a series of stinging rebukes to the Roman Catholic Church".

Across the globe the majority of media reported the weekend's referendum result as a 'Church versus State' showdown with only one winner. Ireland had risen up against years of oppression and sent a signal that enough is enough.

That may have been the case for a section of voters - but the majority of people who went to the ballot box were not in any way influenced by the clergy.

That was not the "soul-searching" that international reporters saw.

It was about women's rights, choice and an attitude of 'live and let live'.

That's why the Catholic bashing needs to stop and we should all welcome Pope Francis to Ireland this summer.

His arrival here will involve an operation on a scale not seen since the visit of Queen Elizabeth. She was a divisive character too - but in the end most people felt pride at the images that swept around the world.

The Church has not helped itself in the wake of the referendum result - but as David Norris pointed out in the Seanad yesterday, there should not be "any slow attempted suicide of the Church".

The Pope is a world leader with a following of more than one billion. For many, the fact he has agreed to come here is deeply personal.

For others it is an event. My first newspaper job was in the 'Tullamore Tribune' where I was greeted every morning by a framed front page of John Paul II visiting Clonmacnoise.

A similar front page from 1979 hangs on the walls of the Irish Independent office.

It is expected that some 3,000 international media will be present in Dublin for the World Meeting of Families.

We have an opportunity to see some history, up close. So if Ireland is as 'open' and 'free' as we all proclaimed over recent days let's roll out the red carpet for Pope Francis.

And perhaps in the interests of mutual respect he will offer up an apology for the sins the Church has inflicted on this country over the years.   

Irish Independent

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