Nothing in the media coverage I heard and read today gave any real sense of the significance or even of the content of the Pope’s pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
Naturally, secular commentators were looking for the kind of things you’d expect of say, a large corporation, or a government: you know – reshuffles, sackings, audits from HQ. That’s why the proposed Apostolic Visit got a lot of mention, and the words of apology: they make sense from a purely human point of view. And that’s why people were looking for news on the resignations and said they couldn’t see much by way of a plan of action.
But this is not a letter from the CEO of a company. It is a pastoral letter from the leader of the Catholic people. Same difference? No – not same difference! HUGE difference! There’s an infinite difference between someone who believes that God who created everything, entered history at a particular time and place, and lived here on earth, and that he did that because he wants us to share his life. That’s pretty amazing and pretty radical. And it gives you a completely different way of thinking about everything. There’s a big difference between someone who thinks like that – and someone who believes we live and die, and that’s it.
So the things that might strike a person of faith are things that, looked at without faith, make little sense or no sense at all: offering Friday penances (Friday what?) for one year for the renewal of the Church here; discovering again the sacrament of Reconciliation (isn’t Confession a thing of the past??) As for Eucharistic Adoration – what good is that going to do??
But though eyes that see the world differently, there are the seeds of a real renewal of the Church here, if we decide to take it.
(More to come on Pope’s Letter)