When people say stupid things like “He’s on the spectrum,” my teeth clench. Everyone is on the spectrum. It’s the crux of a spectrum.
When it comes to self-identifying Irish Catholics, the spectrum is wide. There are merry pagans at one end, a la carte in the middle, and conservatives at the other.
I like this wide church. I don’t like thinly slicing and homogenizing one’s social network.
Meeting different people who think different things is good for the mind and soul. That’s one of the reasons why I go to the fair.
reading of the church National Synthesis document, I was struck by the diversity of opinions gathered during last year’s synod.
For example, some find the language in the scriptures too old-fashioned, others want to go back to the Latin Mass.
I’m in the middle of the font spectrum. I like throwing a little Latin in the eye of men who patronize me with their classical training. Illegitimi not carborundum I swear bitterly.
And I love the Old Testament. It is as important to literature as Shakespeare. Each reading is only a few hundred words long. If people can’t deal with that, we have bigger problems than figuring out the future of the Church.
But imagine, we have to. The churches are dying.
Likewise the priests.
Good relief some say. But just as no one has figured out how a society works without women caring for young and old for free, what happens to a community without a pastoral rock in its midst? The shaman who comes when a child is born, a parent dies, or worse, when the child dies.
Time and time again I have seen families who never black out the door of a church – or give a dime to support the priest – clinging to him in their hour of need.
If the blessing is desired, if the old prayers are sung, if only a hymn is enough and a sacrament gives meaning to our best and worst moments, what will we do when it’s all over?
Only then will we know what a hollowed out society looks like and a body lying in a morgue for weeks waiting for someone it didn’t know to play the part-time priest.
The majority of the participants in the synod have no doubts about the way forward. Sex has distorted the church: priests have been denied it; abuse of children; destroy women; twisting men; and to condemn homosexuals.
When so many priests are gay, the hypocrisy and harm is too great for most to bear.
Then there’s the money. Is holiness possible for the rich? I used to live opposite the Capuchin Center in Smithfield, Dublin. Every day I saw the old men who had no one to take care of them but Brother Kevin. Then I walked across the Liffey to Dublin 2 and the stately offices filled with other men circling the ecclesiastical orders and dioceses greedy for the money they could make as the huge property portfolios came on the market. The church fell into the chasm between these two worlds.
Now it’s asking people what they think. They say priests should marry, make women equal, include the divorced and homosexual – and come out of the church and into the communities to do the work of Christ. Live the gospel among the people.
After these words, will the Vatican listen? I am pessimistic. In Latin America there are 425 million Catholics; 236 million in Africa, 80 million in the Philippines, 70 million in the US and 20 million in India. We are little beer.
Ireland is one of the most progressive countries in the world and the southern continents are more conservative.
If the majority of Irish Catholics want abortion, married priests, divorce and same-sex marriage, why on earth should Rome change for us?
We never really thought about the obvious solution – break with Rome. It’s not them, it’s us.
Sure, we’re not Catholics at all. In fact, the minority of those who attended the synod and expressed a desire to adhere to conservative values are real Catholics. You have every right to tell us heathen and à la carte to pack up and go.
You’re right. Or is it?
As always, it goes back to Jesus. Did he not scold the Pharisees and disgust the holy men by associating with sinners? And isn’t the history of the church a history of reformation: Schisms, heresies, orthodoxies defined, enforced and torn apart again? Invented and disposed of dogmas from limbo to infallibility? The Church has never stayed the same. Why should it now?
I asked Christopher Lamb, the Vatican correspondent The tabletfor his view.
He thought my account of a struggle between a liberal West and a conservative South inaccurate, referring to the strong calls for the ordination of married men and women as deacons in the Amazon region of Latin America.
“What we can expect, however, is a well-organized minority trying to prevent any movement or development in the discipline, doctrine or practice of the Church,” he said.
Still, he said the process itself “represents a real shift from a top-down, vertical decision-making model to one that includes ordinary believers.”
He added: “Perhaps in the Irish and British context we are seeing a recapture of the spirit of early Christianity – the Celtic period, which was less hierarchically organized and more open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit.”
I liked that optimism.
Many people are frustrated that the election of Pope Francis in 2013 doesn’t seem to have brought any obvious change.
But since then, barely a decade has passed — no time at all.
“People are getting a voice – and that’s a big change. There’s no going back,” Lamb said.
For those of us on the pessimistic end of the spectrum, Lamb’s outlook is hopeful.
Or if you prefer Latin, for those who fear the worst: zero desperandum.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/if-irish-catholics-truly-are-so-desperate-for-church-reform-why-not-break-from-rome-41924418.html If Irish Catholics are really that desperate for church reform, why not break with Rome?