Posts Tagged ‘Vatican’

Two interesting articles in yesterday’s Irish Times deal with the recent visit of the Irish Bishops to Rome.

Paddy Agnew, (Rome correspondent) writes that in the wake of the visit “a little explanation might have gone a long way to averting some of the widespread negative Irish reaction to the Rome meeting” http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0220/1224264879783.html He goes on to give step by step what the Vatican might have done to convey the message much more effectively:

“explain beforehand that meetings between the pope and abuse survivors (which have a precedent) are never pre-announced, to avoid them becoming a media scrimmage-cum-photo-op.”

“clarify in advance that the meeting would not be discussing the question of episcopal resignations, something for which the Catholic Church has its own tried and true procedures, involving the Congregation of Bishops.”

“point out that many ambassadors, including those from countries such as the USA and the UK, refuse to appear before foreign affairs committees, or the equivalent thereof.”

Breda O’ Brien makes a similar criticism of the Church here in Ireland:

“The church failed children, especially up until the 1990s, and is now failing to communicate credibly that it has changed.” http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/0220/1224264879612.html

After the publication of the Murphy Report, it was important that the Dublin Diocese made it clear that it had fully faced up to what went so wrong in the past – and this it did reasonably well.

But it also needed to make the full picture clear about the present state of play: that major changes have already taken place: some of these  changes are mentioned in the Report and the Diocese could have given more detail on this.

It needed to respond when some commentators exaggerated, misquoted or took mistaken interpretations from the Report – for example, the widespread use of “mentioned in the Report” as being synonymous with “criticised in the Report”.

It needed to clarify and explain the 1962 Vatican document on the crime of using Confession as a means of solicitation: this was widely mis-reported as a Vatican order not to report child abuse to civil authorities.

It needed to get these messages out over and over again – both the genuine sorrow for the past and the positive changes: our Church leaders owe it to the victims, to ordinary Catholics, to the public.

The Church here hasn’t done this – but it really really needs to start doing it now. Maybe the seperate statements issued yesterday by Dr Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns and Dr Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Conor are hopeful signs of a change? http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0220/abuse.html


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I commented in a post below (Rome trip should be welcomed) that some elements of the media seemed determined to see only negative in the visit of the Irish Bishops to Rome.  By yesterday the Rome visit had fallen down the headlines as Willie O’Dea came under fire. As I listened to the radio and TV coverage of Willie’s exit (for the moment at any rate!) from the Front Bench, it stuck me that this tendency to see the negative is not confined to coverage of the Church and has become a feature of our culture.

The O’Dea story has been in the public domain since at least November but as soon as it became certain that a resignation was imminent, commentator after commentator spoke about how the whole affair had been badly handled from the start by Willie, by the Taoiseach, by the Greens – and no, the Greens hadn’t redeemed themselves by forcing the issue – it was too late for that. Last week we heard how George Lee had made a fool of himself – but that it was all Enda Kenny’s fault.

Our political system too has negativity built into it.  In my younger days I did briefly consider getting into politics, thinking to change the world while being able to engage endlessly in my favourite pastime of debate and polemic. I now shiver at the thought – the idea that part of my job description would be to ALWAYS criticise and find fault in any and every idea not proposed by my own party. I found it so depressing when the recession first kicked in to hear very bright people use their skills only to pull down each others proposals for recovery, simply because the speakers belonged to different political parties. There has to be a better way!

Aren’t we Christians supposed to be people of the Good News?  This shouldn’t just be some abstract and vaguely Church related aspiration, but a real guiding principle in the way we approach everything in life – looking for the good, the positive, wherever it can be found.

If we did nothing else during Lent but decide to challenge this culture a little and make a determined effort to bring a positive attitude to whatever we’re doing and to our conversations and discussions of events and life in general, who knows what Easter might bring!

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