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Protecting the Pope ……. from us.

How refreshing to read such a Commentary, in The Tablet, on the Summary of Responses for the Synod on the family; the summary recently published by the bishops of England and Wales. It reflects what we know and we see every day of our lives in the parish community. It is very far from the otherworldly version that masquerades as Christ’s message in official teaching. How far we can be, from the Gospel, in how badly we often present Christ?
The Joy of the Gospel’ is our Mission Statement and has to be made obvious by all of us.
Francis keeps on brightening up our lives. He did well in regard to Annulments. He did well with Congress and with the UN. Has he now encouraged us by asking us to host the Congress on the Family for 2018? This world- wide Meeting is most welcome in Dublin and Ireland.
I was asked early this morning to speak on the Radio on this topic and to say how excited I was at the possibility of the pope coming to Ireland. I am not excited and am not impressed. I don’t need the drama of a visit. I find excitement and challenge in the routine of everyday life and there is sufficient drama in that to stir my soul into life.
I would much prefer that we respect the age of Pope Francis (I doubt if he will still be pope in 2018!) and conserve his energy and reduce his trips abroad. We should be caring for him and protecting him rather than distracting him with such unnecessary showpieces. We need to keep him at home and let him do as much as he can, in enlivening the Church so that we can find the authentic surprises of Jesus Christ. Too often in the local Church, we are left with trying to protect our communities from the excesses of officialdom (in church matters).
I would hope too that such a Meeting of families (World-wide) would address the issues raised in the summary Report (for the Synod) produced and published in England and Wales. I expect Ireland could produce a similar Report – I may have missed it.
Furthermore, I would be happier too if Rome (and the Leadership of our Church in Ireland) might tidy up its pastoral approach on the pastoral issues of Tony Flannery and Sean Fagan (which has done so much damage to the status of Church in Ireland) rather than be distracted by arranging a jamboree of the pope coming to Ireland. Such exhibitions can be very contrived and artificial. (I do admit that Benedict’s visit to the UK went well and I expected that!)
Seamus Ahearne osa (Rivermount)

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  1. I was quick to share the news that Pope Francis might well be visiting the Emerald Isle. I fail to see the logic in proposing that Pope Francis remain at the Vatican, instead of reaching out yet again to another Church…that being Ireland….I’m wondering when did anyone else other than Christ himself….take over the task of deciding where the Lord’s Disciples go?

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    I’m with Darlene on this one and fear Seamus is being overly gloomy. Seamus states, ” I doubt if he will still be pope in 2018!” Sure it’s only 3 years away and he isn’t that old! God grant him a few years of good health yet.
    Yes, there is something a little bit sickening in the cult of celebrity and the adulation of one human being but he is a wonderful example of a human being, reaching out to so many non-Catholics and fallen-away Catholics as well as the old faithful hard -to-shift-no-surrender -‘it’s ok as it is’- Catholic mindsets. He is a tonic and a tonic is sometimes all that is needed to inject a bit of life and hope back into us. Sure, it will be a Holy Show, all glitz and grins but don’t take away that bit of hope and expectation of changing fixed mindsets.
    That said, I agree with Seamus that there are many areas that need debate and discussion, not just the matter of Sean Fagan, Tony et alia but women, for God’s sake, women who still aren’t treated with full respect as thinking beings. There’s work to be done but in the meantime there is no harm at all in having the excitement of the anticipation of his visit. I live in the most beautiful city in Ireland, with the most amazing setting of any cathedral. I’d love to show him and the world my beloved Armagh. Francis would be more than welcome here! 🙂

  3. Michael C. says:

    I’d be with Seamus on this one.
    While we’d all love to have Pope Francis visit it would be wiser if he were to conserve his energy for tackling the problems that need to be confronted by him in church.
    Besides, such Papal visits do raise the issue of ‘celebrity worship’ and have to raise questions about how serious are we about collegiality among bishops.
    No matter how much we would engage in and relish a ‘jamboree’ around a visit from Francis there has to be a concern that no lasting effect arises from such visits.
    I well remember 1979. What did the visit then achieve that has lasted. Nothing that I am aware of. (If you discount the number of John Pauls that were named the following year or so).
    And despite Francis’ sincere interest in the poor and less well off and his obvious preference of a simple lifestyle, the fact is that a huge investment of state funds would have to be directed into the operations surrounding a Papal visit, funds that we as a State don’t have; funds that would have to be borrowed, funds that could be used to better effect for medical care for the elderly and poor who are left on never ending waiting lists for necessary treatments. Immense energy would be expended by parishes as well in fund raising to cover church costs. Far better that such energy and funds be directed at local projects that will have more lasting effects in their own communities, church and state.
    Pope Francis is a breath of very much needed fresh air; let’s pray and hope he will have good health and long life and continue his work for many years of fruitful ministry but let’s do our part by not burdening him with unnecessary journeys just so we can feel good about ourselves for a few days or weeks and delude ourselves, as happened with some in 1979, that all is well in a mythical church on a mythical emerald isle.

  4. Remember these words: “He Who Welcomes You…Welcomes the One Who Sent Me”….Pope Francis is in a class of his own…and he designs nothing of the drama, pomp or pageantry. Who knows what lives he will touch and change with this visit. ….It would not be appropriate or compassionate to keep the “doctor” at bay….This visit is for all…and certainly for those of us with faith…it is a spiritual experience first and foremost…everything else aside….His visit to Ireland is an answer to my prayers…and maybe an answer for many, many others.

  5. Seamus Ahearne says:

    Today was the funeral of Philip Kelly (a fellow Augustinian and a gentleman). I was at his wake yesterday in Ballyboden where many of our sick and aged presently live. It is sobering and humbling to visit that house. I cannot grasp how we seemed to have aged so rapidly in recent times! At the funeral, many of my fellow Augustinians are old. Most of us have creaking bones and that includes even the most active among us. (I forgot my stick). As I walked towards the grave today, I walked with a former Augustinian (left as a student) who is now retired. He retired at 50. Many of us can’t retire at 50 or 60 or 70 or even 80. And yet some people want Pope Francis to exhaust himself with additional travel. I think we demand too much and are very unrealistic. Francis isn’t a superman nor can he be exalted into a superstar or some kind of spiritual hero who doesn’t get old or tired or forgetful like the rest of us. The demands of his office are huge and relentless. He has to conserve his energy and concentrate on what is possible for him to do in the few years he has. We need him (much more) to focus on what is at the heart of the Gospel and he can do that at the centre of the Church. ……
    And furthermore I didn’t assume (and don’t ) that Francis would be dead in three years. I did incline to the view that he might follow the precedent set by Benedict (the most powerful decision of his time and papacy – Mk 4.35). I also continue to be amazed at many older people (I don’t know how some of our very old parishioners do so much in the community). Another Augustinian stalwart (and inspiration) is Gabriel Daly who will be 88 in November. He has a book due to be published in November on ‘ Renewal in the Church since Vatican Council’ (or not!) This book has over 300 pages of deep philosophical and theological reflections. I marvel at his memory, his clarity of expression, his depth of scholarship and his faithful enthusiasm. (Francis and himself should get together!) He sets a rather impossible standard for the rest of us. Nonetheless, we cannot impose burdens on the old but rather treasure (and enjoy) what they have to offer us. That includes Pope Francis.
    Seamus Ahearne osa

  6. Joe O'Leary says:

    Well said, Seamus — the huge expense of the razzmatazz is unjustifiable, the impact of such visits is ephemeral, and in the case of John Paul II they were a flight from the curia and from the Roman job which he hated. At the start of John Paul II’s pontificate I found myself seated next to Henri de Lubac at a Jesuit house in Paris — I asked him what he thought of the new pope and he said: “I think highly of him and (turning to another Jesuit) did you see that rubbish by Henri Tincq in Le Monde about “the cult of personality”?’ Tincq’s phrase lit a candle in my mind that never went out. The cult of John Paul II was regressive and the cult of Francis is becoming so. The Francis script is set, and entirely predictable. It does not really address the problems of Irish Catholicism today. Let’s not forget either that Francis will support all who resist the liberal agenda of modern Irish Catholics; see this: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/30/pope-francis-meeting-kim-davis-no-surprise

  7. Prodigal Son says:

    The Pope’s principal task is to confirm the faithful in the faith. Thinking about the past two plus years(often unimpressed, it seems to me that he has taken the clarifications of doctrine done by his two predecessors as given, and, building on that platform has, I believe, been gifted and sent by the Holy Spirit to reach out to disaffected Catholics and religiously uninterested secularists, and has decided to do so. Part of this is promoting unity in the Church through focusing on Divine Love. He offers a consistent invitation to all (all are odour-laden sheep) to conversion by availing of the goodness, mercy and forgiveness of a God who wishes all to be saved.
    His method in the US was interesting. He knows that most in the first world believes his pontificate marks a decisive turn in Catholicism parallel to that taken by liberal Protestantism over the past two centuries. The reality had to be conveyed skilfully. He seems relaxed with his own popularity. His audiences exercise a choice in relation to the cult of the individual; there is a risk of some engaging in it.
    So on his public occasions, he spoke on a variety of popular issues, say, of the need for politics to be animated by a passion for the common good, as a moral exercise, not just an exercise in power. He proclaimed the bottom-line political and
    moral”responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” from the womb through natural death — and got his most sustained applause in the House chamber for doing so. And so on. He proclaimed Catholic teaching by inference and implication.
    More privately he visited the Little Sisters of the Poor, a clear gesture of opposition to the intent of the Obama administration to curtail the religious freedom of Catholics. The private visit to Kim Davis was a promotion of the Church’s teaching on marriage. These meetings required a papal visit.
    He left millions with a good feeling. But applause does not imply listening. Both he and Pope St John Paul is/was aware that the cult of the individual forms no basis for faith. It’s a“one for Paul one for Appollos” thing. Those who owe their conversions to JP II liked him, but assert that the grace was derived from God working through him.
    I am indifferent about a papal visit to Ireland. We have Catholicism here. We have, freedom of religion. We have the Mass and the sacraments to keep us in the faith. The poor whom the Pope assures us are a gift, abound. And Lumen Gentium 5 says:” The Word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear the Word with faith and become part of the little flock of Christ, have received the Kingdom itself. Then, by its own power the seed sprouts and grows until harvest time.”

  8. We have just heard tonight that Francis has appointed Raymond Burke and, even worse, Carlo Cafarra to positions in the Roman Congregation dealing with sainthood and things like that– pretty harmless, I suppose, really. But you have to wonder at times what is he up to.

  9. Maybe he is keeping his friends close and his enemies even closer.

  10. Perhaps Cardinal Burke will be advising the saints on the appropriate wardrobe for any forthcoming apparitions. 🙂

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