In this week’s blog Fr Paddy writes that theweeks and months ahead can be a time of grace in our Diocese and urges us to rally together to make the best use of our time.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published 27th April 2010.

Bishop Jim Moriarty offered his resignation to the Holy Father as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin on the 23rd of December 2009. This week Pope Benedict has accepted Bishop Jims resignation. He did this because he stated in his resignation statement he

did not challenge the prevailing culture.

This prevailing culture has been revealed as a culture of cover-up, secrecy, silence and clericalism surrounding the issue of child sexual abuse by clergy.

Bishop Moriarty has been applauded both at Diocesan and National level for the manner of and rationale for his resignation. One of Bishop Jims important initiatives is his tireless promotion of excellent Safe Guarding Children guidelines in the Diocese. It is for others to assess Bishop Jim’s Episcopal legacy in due course.

Now the Diocese is without a Bishop. At time of writing, an Administrator has been appointed who is a priest from within the Diocese. The function of the Diocesan Administrator is to facilitate the ongoing administrative work in the Diocese. There is at this time huge work to be done in the rebuilding of a more inclusive, representative and credible Church in Ireland.

Part of the work ahead for our Diocese is the task of discerning who our new Bishop will be. If we are serious about challenging the Clerical Culture, in the light of Bishop Jims resignation, can we seriously go about the task of discerning our new Bishop without real consultation with the lay people of our Diocese? If it is only a few clergy and lay people who are consulted by the Nuncio, then the Clerical Culture remains unchallenged.

Given what we have been through and the amount of disillusionment felt by so many towards the institutional Church, this is the time for real communication. Starting to challenge the Clerical Culture begins now. One way we can challenge the Clerical Culture is to empower lay people with a renewed sense of value and worth in the mission of building the Lord’s Kingdom. This mission needs real leadership.

The Diocese has an effective model in use. Meetings took place as a response to Pope Benedicts Pastoral Letter to Irish Catholics concerning Clerical child sexual abuse. At these meetings lay people and priests shared a genuine concern for our Church and hopes for its future.

There is a vibrancy and real life in the heart of all our faith communities. There are many signs of renewal throughout this Diocese. Good news is being realised every day by so many who mission in the fields of education, service, justice and compassion. Carlow College is a source of great inspiration to so many enthusiastic faith filled students who will be the leaders of our local church in the future. I face the future with renewed hope, that together in the Spirit we can do great things.

The weeks and months ahead can indeed be a time of Grace in our Diocese. Let us rally together in making the best use of our time.