In this week’s blog Fr Paddy tells us that our searching for new life and hope can be inspired by Jesus, born in poverty in a stable in Bethlehem.

newbeginnings

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

This column appeared in the edition published 10th December 2009

Last Sunday at mass I spoke from my heart regarding my feelings at this time of scandal in our Church. Earlier that morning I had read most of a national newspaper. I felt greatly depressed when I considered the opinion of so many good people in all our parishes, who are hugely angry and deeply frustrated regarding how our Bishops are responding to the horror of the Murphy report regarding Clerical child sexual abuse. At our Mass, in the context of Advent we distributed daffodil bulbs to all who gathered for prayer. The theme for our worship on the second Sunday of Advent was A time for new Life. In the Gospel we heard a courageous voice in a lonesome and desolate place. John the Baptist was preparing a people who were disillusioned with the established religious tradition. He promised a new springtime, a time

When every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. A time when winding roads will be straightened and rough ways made smooth.

A voice that is so relevant in this time of great uncertainty, fear, anger and scandal for our Church in Ireland.

This is a defining moment in the history of the Catholic Church. The Hierarchical institutional Church is imploding. Its response to the Dublin Report saddens me. It is very disheartening witnessing a response by many Bishops that is silent, inadequate and not in touch with the huge outrage felt in the hearts of so many members of our parishes at this time. I believe that the response really necessary for those who covered up and did not adequately respond to child protection concerns revealed in the Dublin report is to resign. If not how can we move forward and begin a new springtime of renewal, celebrating with great hope the Kingdom of Gods presence in all our lives.

I have hope in my heart. The message of Jesus Christ is far greater than any institution. The Church of the future needs an inclusive leadership, representative of all her members not just an exclusively male and clerical model that is for so many out of date and no longer relevant. The Church is commissioned with a fundamental task to spread good news. The Church is alive and active, like the daffodil bulb it’s roots are nourished by the extraordinary people we know in all our parishes who give witness to Jesus Christ. Parents who generously and selflessly nurture their children, agencies like St. Vincent de Paul who respond to the needs of those who are most vulnerable. The Church needs to celebrate the enthusiasm and energy that is celebrated in all our school communities. The Church has a huge responsibility in be a voice for justice in society, where many are overwhelmed by unemployment and debt at this time.

This is a time of crisis and opportunity, a time of great pain, especially for the victims of abuse. Abuse, that was with great scandal covered up and dealt so badly by the Bishops who are entrusted with responsibility of caring for their flocks. In our searching for new life and hope may our way forward be inspired by Jesus, born in poverty in a stable in Bethlehem.