My first two speaking engagements on the theme of “Repairing a Damaged Church” took place this week in Galway and in Athenry. In some ways it felt like being back preaching missions with the usual pre-mission tension as I wondered if anyone would come.
Thankfully people did come.
In my talk I gave a brief summary of some of the key events in Church history from which some of our present difficulties originated. I tried to explain how certain decisions that were made for questionable motives have had serious consequences for the Church. I talked about Vatican II, and, in the words of Hans Kung, of the two major ‘paradigm shifts’ that occurred there, but how ultimately a powerful, centralised Rome-dominated Church has partially blocked its implementation.
I finished with extracts from Chapter One of Evangelii Gaudium, and the reform agenda of Pope Francis that is outlined there.
The numbers who came and the vigorous and energetic debate from the people in the audience showed that there are a great many people who are deeply concerned for our Church, and who desperately want to see some real change that will make it an effective mediator of the message of Jesus. These people are in every parish. We have to find some way of making their voices heard.
I continue next week in Castlebar, the following week in Limerick and Kinsale, and later next month I go to London for two speaking engagements. I will be happy to travel to speak to any group, small or large, to which I am invited. I see this as a new ministry. I trust that it is part of God’s plan, and that He/She works in strange ways because “Unless the Lord build the city they labour in vain who build it”.