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Thursday 15 November 2018

Pope is waging a war against clericalism

Opinion

Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

The Aer Lingus Airbus A321 lifted off the ground, its undercarriage retracted and within seconds the plane was into the clouds above Dublin. Pope Francis was on his way back to Rome.

Heavens, much has been said and written about the papal visit, can anything else be said? Now that he has come and gone this might be an opportune time to express a few thoughts. Maybe over the coming weeks I just might say something about aspects of the Catholic Church that have intrigued and interested me over many years. Some of the questions that I asked back in the 1980s now seem to be on the lips of many people.

From what I read and see about Pope Francis he seems kind and genuinely interested in people. I like the man. I also had a grá for Pope Benedict, that probably had something to do with my German links and he being German. Pope St John Paul never impressed me and I'm still shell-shocked that they made him a saint with such alacrity. Did they not break their own rules canonising him?

The moment Pope Francis said Buona Sera in St Peter's on the evening of his election on March 13, 2013 he caught my attention. Also, being a Jesuit, one immediately knows that he is no fool.

On the Monday before he came to Ireland he wrote a letter on clerical child sex abuse to all Catholics. Media outlets quoted from it but nowhere did I see the following extract quoted or spoken about: 'Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.'

In that same letter he stresses how the church is made up of all the people of God. 'Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the people of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualties and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.'

Inspiring words. Powerful too. The church is the people of God, elites prove disastrous. Since he became pope he has been waging a war against clericalism. But I can imagine to lance the boil must be like attempting to turn an aircraft carrier out at sea. It takes a long time.

RTE coverage was wall-to-wall and the station has to be complimented. But would it not have been better to have had a native English speaker translating his Italian into English?

I wonder does the viewer get somewhat tired of all the usual familiar faces saying the same things over and over. Surely it gets boring.

At the Croke Park event, Pope Francis was flanked by Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Imagine the PR coup it would have been had he had a woman sitting next to him, a Sister Stan or someone such as Marie Collins?

If I hear once more how Ireland has changed since 1979 I'll scream. Change is part of being alive.

And I was delighted to see Pope Francis did not kiss the ground or wear silly shoes. I like Pope Francis and wish him well.

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