Sir, – Michael Harding (Life, March 12th ) states that the scales of religious myth have fallen from his eyes and that he views the ongoing Roman Conclave as an elaborate ritual. That is his understandable reaction to the unrelenting drip of stories about children being raped and buggered by clerics. The same issue of your paper gave details of the most recent Dutch report about tens of thousands of girls abused from 1945 to 2010 in the Netherlands.
Like Michael Harding, I, too, was ordained a Catholic priest. I am now married and actively involved in my local parish as well as in various Catholic reform groups. I, too, am deeply troubled as a result of all the abuse of power, children, women and priests which has happened on our watch in Catholic parishes and homes. I am worried about the official omerta code and ongoing denial. I am ashamed of the mealy-mouthed apologies and no evidence of genuine repentance or purpose of amendment.
However, I remain a believer in the fundamental Good News of Jesus and am heartened by the large numbers of good Catholic people of faith, action for justice and loving service. Like many other Catholic people clinging on by their fingernails, I am more than willing to volunteer service in our parishes and local communities. But I am frightened of being compromised into collusion or support for ongoing abuse, inquisition and medieval nonsense. I do not want people to be diverted by the pomp and pageantry of an unreformed Vatican.
Like millions of Catholics, I want to see debate, dialogue and robust analysis of the cancerous crisis within our church as controlled by a small group of patriarchs in fancy dresses. I want to see radical reform and renewal of structures,governance,theology and ministry.
Like parents and priests everywhere, I want meaningful good news to be available to our young people today in language, concepts and structures that make sense to people .
I hope and pray that we will all be surprised and uplifted by the election of a new pope who will lead us in a collegial fashion towards the above goals via diocesan assemblies, national assemblies and Vatican III in 2016. – Yours, etc,