How the Catholic Church in Ireland can survive
We are a wounded church but not defeated
Others want to reach out and find scapegoats and find solace in blaming others -- the media, secularism, atheists, the new missal, the old Mass, liberals, right-wingers and so on. Red herrings all.
The wound is still there and there's a message in it, for us, and until we respond to the message we will continue to die as an institutional religion in Ireland. The faith, once strong in North Africa died out completely; there are no divine guarantees for Ireland or Western Europe.
But as one religious leader has written: ''We are not here to change the world; we are here to illuminate it.'' We talk about evangelisation but is the salt still salty? Bland Christians don't convince or convert anyone.
Cardinal Brady spoke at the weekend of the numbers looking to study theology and scripture and how encouraging those numbers are.
It is impressive and is a clear sign of the hunger among laity to know more about their faith, to have an adult faith that makes sense. People long for instruction on their spiritual journey, to learn how to pray, to learn how to let go of the nonsense and find what is real.
Institutional religion -- the Church and religious orders -- are failing because there is a failure in leadership.
Quite simply, those in leadership positions were not trained to be leaders in times of chaos, yet some cling to leadership in spite of their inability to lead, others lead because no one else will.
A few recognise that leadership requires vision and is not management or administration but something different.
What we all can agree on is that we are called to be a new type of Church, ''one truly centred around the radical and disturbing vision of Jesus. At our best we know what it is. It is the only way to ensure a future full of hope''.
That quote comes from the head of the Christian Brothers, a disgraced religious order in Ireland with their reputation in 'tatters' and yet, from the margins, from the bottom, comes such insight and wisdom and hope.
I'll leave the last word to the mystics:
''Beware of the tiny gods frightened men create
To bring an anaesthetic relief
To their sad days.''
Be not afraid.
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