Just how many trumpet blasts do our Irish Catholic Bishops need?
First , last March we got a new pope who admitted straightaway that he too is a sinner – i.e. fallible. Numb silence followed that in Ireland, as though deep shock had overtaken his Irish episcopal hearers.
Then we had a call from Rome for something unheard of since 1965 – feedback from the people of God on family issues. Most Irish bishops again reacted with apparent shock – and then scrambled to make a token response. None asked to be personally advised by his own flock in a diocesan conference, in preparation for Vatican synods on the family this year and next. A parlous fear of assembly still ruled the Irish church.
Then in November 2013 Francis issued his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, including this:
“I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything so that the Church’s customs, way of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can suitably be channelled for evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. “ (Evangelii Gaudium § 27)
If this wasn’t an invitation to Irish church leaders to do their own dreaming about reawakening and renewal, what on earth are they waiting for?
Yet so far, even by Easter 2014, there was no similar exhortation from any Irish bishop.
So, why are we waiting still, and what are we waiting for?
It couldn’t be for this 77 year old Argentinian’s age to catch up with him, could it?
So, as our bishops still seem to be heading away from Jerusalem on the road to Emmaus, let us pray for the Lord to take them in hand, walk with them – and make their hearts burn strongly enough to blow away the mountain of ash that keeps them so torpid. And send them racing back to us with something more like excitement than disillusionment – as well as eagerness for that elementary particle whose absence erodes their authority day after day: dialogue with the people of God.
It’s surely time for a new Pentecost in the Irish Church, and time is running out for the current generation of Irish bishops to prove that they can lead it.
Sean O’Conaill 03/05/2014