An interesting article by Fr Brendan Hoban of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland (ACP), in his ‘Western People’ newspaper column.
………… “What Pope Francis is doing is pointing a way forward for the Church, specifying the Vatican Two route. That’s what he did too in the recent synod on the family in Rome. He was like a steward at a car rally, standing at a cross-roads, frantically waving the traffic in one particular direction.
What was important in the synod wasn’t the distance covered but getting on the right road. Effectively it marked an end to the rigidity of the John Paul II/Benedict years and the adoption of a new way of being church. The synod, the prestigious paper, the Tablet commented, was ‘a snapshot of a Church in transition’.”
…………. “Francis has a problem, however, with those who might be drivers of the new reform. The Church is packed with John Paul and Benedict appointed bishops, most of them more comfortable with the rigid ethos of those four decades than the Vatican Two Church that Francis is sponsoring.”
…………. “It won’t be easy. In Ireland, for instance, since Francis became pope there’s no sign of a ‘Francis bishop’ being appointed. Even though there’re plenty to fit that profile, none has been appointed, probably because those doing the appointing have no appetite for the direction Francis is taking.
Worse still, at a time of huge crisis for the Church in Ireland, when all the graphs are going in the wrong direction, there’s no bishop with the vision, creativity or courage to take advantage of the Francis tide. Instead what we get is a fall-back position – neutralize criticism by dismissing it as negative or undermine those who name uncomfortable truths.”
…………… “Fear is a debilitating condition, especially in bishops, who are expected to lead the Church. ‘Fear causes us to recoil, to become stagnant . . . Faith by contrast enables us to take risks, to go forward, to face the future courageously’.”