Mick Lynch has been all over the British media in recent weeks. He’s the General Secretary of the UK’s RMT(National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) which is currently in dispute with Network Rail and 13 rail operators.
Lynch was born in London of Irish parents. His father was from Cork city and his mother from outside Crossmaglen in County Armagh. He’s a media sensation. The UK government and some sections of the media try to make him out to be a Marxist trouble maker and when they ask him silly questions he immediately brings them down to size and explains quietly, intelligently and supremely articulately that it’s his job to get proper conditions and a decent wage for his members working on the railway.
Watching him I can’t help but think the world of priesthood would do well with a Mick Lynch.
Has the Christian community, more specifically, Catholics, any idea the state of play in the Catholic Church at present? Yes, the synodal process has rightly received positive vibes but there is so much wrong with how the church is managed right now, one would wonder what can Pope Francis’ synod do.
Some days ago I was talking to a diocesan priest. A few minutes into our conversation he had no trouble telling me that he had little or no time for his bishop. He pointed out that the bishop had seldom if ever spoken with him.
Two days later I overheard someone say that he was shocked with the lack of communication there is between priests in a particular religious congregation. May I assure you they are not isolated cases; right across priesthood there is little or no conversation, little or no honest charity or understanding. Indeed, it’s not too long ago since a priest said to me that in the past bishops had power across society. That’s all changed now and the only people over whom they can try to wield power is their priests and they make sure to do that. That’s the opinion of one man but he speaks for many. And I know what I am talking about.
I was ordained a priest on July 7, 1974. Please, don’t get me wrong, I have come across great priests but right now there is a terrible breakdown in trust and communication within priesthood and between the foot soldiers and their superiors. There is far too much secrecy, far too much nonsense and distrust, gobbledegook too. And guess what, if the truth be told, jealousy often rears its ugly head within priesthood.
Priesthood today could well do with the inspiration of a ‘Fr Mick Lynch’. Another trade unionist, Will Thorne, founder of the GMB union in 1889, which is today one of the UK’s biggest trade unions said: ‘There is a world of freedom, beauty and equality to gain, where everyone will have an opportunity to express the best that is in them for the benefit of all, making the world a place more to our heart’s desire and the better to dwell in.’
Irish priests, bishops and religious superiors could make priesthood and the Irish Catholic Church a far better place if they took those words to heart.