A truly pastoral church is what is needed in Ireland today, one responsive to the wishes of the people rather than a bureaucracy in Rome at the Vatican.
The church in Ireland has long been divided between the Celtic and Roman affiliations.
The Celtic church adherents stress the pastoral nature of the church, the need to be at one with their flock and deal with the problems that arise on the pastoral level. It is locally based and grounded.
That is the traditional message of the Irish church as first expressed by St. Patrick who brought the faith to Ireland.
Current Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recognized that reality soon after coming back from Ireland to Rome and focused on the core message of regaining the faith of those who had been abused and those appalled by that.
He took over from the dense philosopher Desmond Connell who was all at sea with the pastoral role and allowed the evildoers to run amok.
The Vatican did all in it power to cover up its scandals under Connell but Martin was having none of it.
He was a very determined Irishman. standing with the most vulnerable against the powerful, including many of his own colleagues.
He understands that what the average parishioner thinks, rather than what a Vatican Curia member wants to cover up is far more important in Ireland today with the church on its knees.
The former Bishop of Killaoe in Clare, Willie Walsh was a similar figure, one who came down from the ivory tower and who confessed openly to doubts about his faith but who strove at all times to be human and caring.
Another one, Father Iggy O'Donovan, is one of the finest priests I have known.
He officiated at my mother's funeral mass and is a long time friend of my family.
He loves to call a spade a spade as he did when recently speaking to the Drogheda Independent.
When the issue of seal of the confessional came up Iggy was typically direct.
‘ There was a huge issue made of a report that priests may now have to report things told in the confession box but everyone seems to have ignored the obvious, people hardly go to confession anymore,’ he stated.
‘ Who will be impacted by this proposed rule, very few, believe me,’ he continued.
As to the ramifications of the report from Cloyne into the church's malfeasance Iggy calls a spade a spade
He feels the latest report into the Church and its handling of abuse is more serious than all the rest.
‘I don’t think it’s finished yet and I speak for myself when I wonder am I part of an inept and incompetent institution.
‘People have been saying to me how can all this have happened and I know it will hit mass numbers more.’
"However, the damning part is that the Church did not keep to its own guidelines, never mind the State.
‘Did we forget that abusing a child is wrong, no matter about guidelines?’
‘All that seems like another world when you read the likes of the Cloyne Report,’ he stated
‘There was blind loyalty to the institution and the need to avoid a scandal at all costs. The irony is that all that caused an even bigger scandal and the hierarchy now has an incredible lack of street credibility’.
His belief is that the Church is on borrowed time.
‘You could say it’s a bit like Fianna Fail (Formerly Ireland's main political party almost wiped out in last election over scandals) . It’s a culmination of things that led to a backlash. I fear the Church will be hit by one report too many.
‘My feeling is sadness, most of all for those that suffered. The cover ups were the biggest sins of all.’
Iggy knows what the Watergate conspirators knew and the Vatican can never seem to learn-- its the cover up stupid.
If the church in Ireland had more men like Donovan, Martin and Walsh it would all look very different.