Two Questions about the “Summary”
Is there anyone out there who can answer these two questions about the “Summary of Findings of the Apostolic Visitation?
First: The Visitation was to be about the church in Ireland. We already know that it’s from the Holy See. They make sure to protect themselves from Enda Kenny in the second paragraph by saying, “it was not intended to interfere with the ordinary activity of the local magistrates …”
Why does the Holy See repeatedly refer to itself, and this under various different guises? “The Holy Father”, “the Holy See”, “Pope Benedict XVI”, “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”, “the Magisterium” “the Successor of Peter”. It refers to the “Holy See” eleven times.
It’s almost as if they’re afraid we’ll forget that they haven’t gone away.
Second: We have faced and survived Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne, and wall-to-wall coverage in the media. What is so terrible about the findings of the Visitation that they can only bear to let us have a summary? We know some parts of the Irish reports were omitted for a time for legal reasons, but we got the full reports apart from that. Do they think we’re too feeble to be able to take whatever the full findings are? The findings are about us. We contributed to them. It feels disrespectful and patronising to give us this anaemic summary which says little that could not have been said before the Visitation, apart from the fact that the Visitation took place.
The last paragraph says, “The Holy See entrusts its conclusions to the responsibility of the Bishops, clergy, Religious and lay faithful of Ireland, in the hope that they will bear fruit worthy of that process of healing, reparationa and renewal which Pope Benedict XVI so eagerly desires for the beloved Church in Ireland.” So why not let us have the full findings?
Despite having lived for four great years in Rome, the culture gap (to say the least) revealed here is shocking.
Maybe they want to spare Irish clerics a lot of embarrassment. Perhaps they think there is no need to rub salt in the wound. We already know that the Church here is in an absolute mess. I know I didn’t need a visitation from Rome to tell me that.
I recall reading in The Voice that the report was summarised at the behest of Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin. This week’s Irish Catholic also claims that over half the bishops have not seen the full report – it would seem as if the archbishops here are blocking the publication of the full report, for whatever reason. They have read it in full and taken it upon themselves to keep the rest of us, including their brother bishops, in the dark.
Power: The love of it and the fear of losing it….Like all oppressive and corrupt institutions.
The church hierarchy and specifically the Vatican hierarchy have to choose. Do they want to control people or do they want to help them? It would seem to me their preference for the need to control, betrays a fear of irrelevance.
As for the references to theological dissent, the failure to be specific throws a veil over this issue, and could allow the vile process of secret delating, and oppressive and unjust CDF reaction to that, to be going on right now – to be revealed in time no doubt as another demoralising scandal. As if we poor ignorant Irish lay Catholics could never be moved by the Holy Spirit to discern truth from falsehood.
Which brings me to something else. The visitation never addressed the issue of the moral cowardice displayed by Irish Catholic civil servants in dealing with the cruelty revealed in the shocking Ryan report. How exactly does the Holy Spirit move us if not by moral indignation at oppression? And how better to suppress the Holy Spirit than by creating a climate of fear. That is what authoritarianism has always done, and its spirit is not dead yet.
Transparency and accountability are concepts which are hostile to the culture of secrecy and behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Vatican.
As someone has said recently, the Vatican do not do ‘freedom of information’. It would seem that in the area of good practice and work place values, the institutional Church has much to learn from the secular world it seeks to protect us from.
In relation to the need to control and the related fear of a loss of relevance; the following reflection I received by email directly after my previous posting above, might be of help to those at the top:
“Smallness and ordinariness – It’s a gift to joyfully recognise and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your ‘I’ is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary ‘I.’ No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.” (Richard Rohr)
Mother Teresa referred to this as ‘the freedom to be nothing’ (in a healthy sense). It sounds naïve but the irony therefore is that, the more the hierarchy can get in touch with their own smallness and ordinariness and let go of the need to control, the more we will be able to relate in a mutually helpful way. This will require from the hierarchy, more in the way of vulnerability, integrity and maturity than is currently on offer. How the openness to receive this gift will come about, God alone knows. But to me there is a direct connection between this and the current theology of priesthood, which is increasingly being recognised as a major contributor to our present troubles, if recent postings on this and other websites are anything to go by.