Friday 24 November 2017

Sacrificial lamb

• I have some sympathy with Cardinal Brady as he becomes the sacrificial victim destined to make reparation for the past. It is not the cardinal but the institution of the church that needs to make reparation and bring about a commitment to listening and learning rather than to teaching.

The bishops must feel that they did what was expected of them -- to protect the church from scandal. This ethos of well-intentioned but misguided loyalty to the institutional church is what led to their appointment and to the way in which they were expected to behave. The management of the church had embraced an ethic of obedience, of command and control, not of care.

The second Vatican council set out an imaginative conception of the church as the people of God, all contributing their distinctive gifts. This vision was systematically undermined and degenerated into meaningless rhetoric. It is a shame that the Catholic Church is now identified with an institution that is weak, human, fallible, fearful and inward-looking, driven by keeping up appearances.

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