Explaining Ireland's blessed mess

Gerry O'Hanlon SJ, A New Vision of the Catholic Church: A View from Ireland (Columba Press, 2011)

Irish theologian Gerry O’Hanlon SJ analyses the current crisis afflicting the Church in Ireland and identifies the frustrations felt by Irish Catholics who feel that their voices are not being heard.

O'Hanlon is based at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice in Dublin. He is a former Provincial of the Irish Jesuits.

Problems have surfaced in a dramatic way in Ireland and many other parts of the Catholic world, due to the scandal of clerical child sexual abuse and its mishandling by Church authorities.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has, time and again, noted that this scandal has opened our eyes “to a much deeper crisis”. He judges that, in Ireland at least, the Church is already ‘over the brink’ in the sense that in future it will certainly be a minority institution in Ireland, the only question being whether or not it will be a culturally irrelevant one.

Father O’Hanlon’s new book attempts to explain how the Irish Church got to where it is, and what possibilities there are to imagine and implement something different. That ‘something different’, in particular more participation in terms both of governance and doctrine, was eloquently expressed at Vatican II.

He particularly likes Vatican II theologian Ladislas Orsy’s way of putting it: “Our aim is to search for better balances without damaging vital forces”.

He argues that this is not the time to throw babies out with bathwater, but rather to take up John-Paul II’s own 1995 invitation, made in the context of ecumenism, “to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation…and may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned” and to extend this to the way the Church operates at all levels.

FULL ARTICLE: A New Vision for the Catholic Church: A View from Ireland (Thinking Faith)


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