In this week’s Fr. Paddy reflects on the past year since the resignation of Bishop Jim Moriarty was accepted by the Vatican.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 12 April 2011.

It is now almost one year, since the resignation of Bishop Jim Moriarty, has been accepted by the Vatican. A resignation, applauded in its honesty and courage

“I did not challenge the prevailing culture”;

a culture of cover up and silence, that has caused great damage to the Irish Catholic Church’s credibility and integrity. Over the past few months, an Apostolic Visitation Team examined the state of the Irish Church. This is a direct response to Pope Benedict’s Pastoral Letter; written to the Irish People.

A letter acknowledging the horror of the Ryan and Murphy Report and clearly acknowledging the fundamental need of renewal and healing in our church.

A recent letter from the Irish Bishops Conference “Towards healing and renewal” points us in the direction of hope. Especially in light of new stringent child protection policy being adhered to in all Irish Dioceses. The same letter clearly acknowledges the deep pain and great burden of hurt inflicted on victims of clerical child sexual abuse.

Many, perhaps see the Institutional Irish Catholic Church like the Titanic. Barely floating, about to sink. Its members disillusioned and somewhat lost at sea. Its leadership limited and fearful. Such an analogy reminds me of the powerful story that is the beginnings of our Church. Any recent evaluation concerning where we need to be post Murphy Report, often refers, to the need of a more Christ Centred Church to emerge.

Our humble beginnings of the Christian faith, began not in a ship but on a ‘fisherman’s boat’. A boat that endured stormy seas. A boat where collaboration and right relationships facilitated hard work. A boat where its captain and crew were deeply humble, energetic and resilient. It is the model of the  fisherman’s boat, that continues to offer huge inspiration and relevance to my life both as priest and follower of Jesus Christ.  Let the Titanic sink!! Perhaps we should never have left the boat in the first place. Our local church, is relevant when it connects with the human story. A story often fragile. The model of church, given by this boat community, reminds me that surely our new Bishop, whoever he may be, has a challenging but deeply important task ahead. I’m sure there was little regard for tall hats and regalia in our early Christian church. We need a leadership of hope, courage and solidarity at this time, not just in the church; but in many important institutions. There is a great power and source of integrity when we examine our own personal story in light of the Gospel message. During a recent Novena talk, a very brave man brought great hope and emotion to the hundreds of people who gathered to listen to his heroic recovery from his addiction to alcohol. He spoke from his heart about how in the darkest moments of his life, somehow the glimmer of light from his faith in Jesus, gave him the courage to take one step at a time. For me, I am enthused and uplifted to belong to a church often on its knees. When we are on our knees, humble, wholesome and real, we are very close to the origins of our Christian story. This is the place where great things happen, everyday in Jesus’ name.