The Irish people should help choose Catholic bishops
Church must be answerable to the faithful
Let us consider the present situation. Bishops are appointed to a diocese whose inhabitants are expected to shoulder 100% of their Lordships upkeep and that of their retinue. They are also expected to give 100% of obedience to his pronouncements, but they are not even given one per cent of input into his selection.
While from time to time the Vatican may have a particular candidate of its own for a vacant See it is normally the Papal Nuncio who has the major say in the appointment of bishops. He tells Rome which of the shortlisted replacements for any vacant see is likely to be the most reliable in implementing the Vatican’s policies. His view totally outweighs the wishes of the priests of the diocese, and as for those of the laity…? Forget it.
Cardinal Desmond Connell, who played an inglorious role at the helm in Drumcondra while the gathering storm that led to the Murphy reports was building up, was appointed because he was a friend of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, not because of any reputation for his knowledge and involvement with the lives of the plain people of Dublin.
Similarly, the appointment of John Magee as Bishop of Cloyne, a post from which he has had to step aside, clearly owed more to his years as a papal secretary than to his services in Ireland.
We don’t know yet what the ongoing examination of the affairs of the diocese of Cloyne is going to throw up, but, to put it mildly, there is very little evidence that the Cloyne Report is going to make better reading than the Murphy Report.
The plain fact is that the present crisis has arisen because bishops, appointed solely by Rome, were formed, and operated in a culture in which the Vatican policy worldwide was: Pass the Parcel.
Under infectious diseases legislation, there are severe penalties for failing to report certain serious illnesses to the authorities. But at under the Pass the Parcel policy, what most of us would call an appalling disease, that of pedophilia, was covered up and the infectious one deliberately sent off to another parish to abuse trust and children in a manner which had, and has, lifelong consequences.
The difference between this awful mental disease and that of a physical affliction like AIDS, is that people involved in the implementation of the Pass the Parcel policy got up in pulpits and with monumental hypocrisy, in their self-appointed role as moral arbiters, instructed people as to how they should lead their lives by spouting rubbish such as contraception being wrong even in marriage, and that sex should only be employed for the procreation of children.