Monday, February 15, 2010
The Irish Problem
This meeting is, I hope, of significance for the whole Church. The Irish heirarchy spectacularly show up the faults of the way in which the Church is governed, or misgoverned. As horrific as the abuse cases were the damage done was not only of their own making but also of the Church's law. It was the result of the worst aspects of the lack of accountability, lack of fraternal correction, of hiding behind the collective responsibility of the episcopal conference, of deafness to the pastoral needs of their people. It demonstrates what can happen when Bishops are encouraged to see themselves primarily as Church managers rather than Pastors.
The great problem seems to be the feudal structure, that makes a Bishop Lord of all who surveys linked to an unaccountable oligarchy of the Episcopal Conference. In the past when the Episcopal Conference structure was weaker, the Bishop was directly accountable to the anvil of the senior clergy of his diocese on the one hand and the hammer of the Roman Curia on the other.
I am not sure feudalism is the primary problem, unless the Bishop surrounds himself by cronies and disregards the law. In the Church it works if there is a careful balance of rights and obligations, properly excercised within the bounds of Canon Law. The Church isn't a democracy. The problem is the Episcopal Conference, I wrote a few weeks ago about how our own Episcopal Conference avoids accountability from Rome, Ireland seems much the same, Bishop Willy Walshe infamously claimed he threw anything from Rome in the wastepaper basket.
Apart from a better quality of Bishop, somehow I think Summorum Pontificum actually might hint at an answer to some of Ireland's problems, I don't mean the Traditional Latin Mass itself but the legislation surrounding it. Summorum Pontificum is significance is often overlooked, it is unique, giving lay people the right to ask for something, parish priests and bishops the duty to answer their requestss, and Rome the duty of ensuring these rights are respected.
Pray for Ireland and its problems!
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