Monday 11 December 2017

Coalition reaping the whirlwind

Today's Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll reveals, once again, an Ireland that is experiencing a crisis of political leadership. A new Government secured some wavering public consent in 2011, but the old pattern of a citizenry who are without confidence in their governing class has returned with a vengeance, which is mostly directed at Labour. This ongoing crisis is as unsurprising as it is corrosive, and though an increasing nihilism is evidenced by today's yearning for an undefined alternative, it is not a creature of cynicism. Instead, the collapse of confidence in our elite is the creation of a Government that is too infused by the ethos of the pragmatic trimmer and the backstairs bully.

When set against such a moral desert, the election of a new Pope might appear to be an unworldly affair. However, even in the amoral age of the great oligarchs, whose template is set by Berlusconi and Putin rather than Christ, the promise by Pope Francis to end a church culture of insiders who congratulate themselves while condemning all others is to be welcomed.

There is much reform to be done to ensure that the former institution of 'gimlet-eyed canon lawyers, of the note-taking Cardinal Sean Brady, of moral reservation or of discreet phone calls from All Hallows to the deferential offices of Bertie Ahern' has really had its day. But, while a more pastoral vision is right, the new Pope is to be commended for his apparent belief that the church restricts its role and vision too much if it confines its brief to that of being a 'compassionate NGO'.

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