Getting ready for Pope Francis
Sir, – The suggestion that the Pope’s visit to Ireland will lead to a renewal of the Catholic Church in Ireland seems a little far-fetched (“Pope’s visit could signal a rebirth for church, says Knock parish priest”, News, August 3rd).
Lapsed churchgoers left the church for genuine reasons, including child abuse, attitudes to women and homosexuals, and church rigidity on contraception and divorce. These lapsed churchgoers left after careful consideration rather than in a fickle manner.
A papal visit will not reverse any of the core policies of the church, so it doesn’t follow that a papal visit will cause lapsed Catholics to return.
Although I’m sure the priest quoted in The Irish Times article means well, he underestimates the intellect of lapsed Catholics, who are unlikely to make a major U-turn in their beliefs simply because of a papal visit. It will require major policy change to bring people back to the church.
There is no evidence that such a change will occur soon, so perhaps it is time for fair-minded priests themselves to question their welcome of the Pope to Ireland, and indeed to question their continued membership of the church also. – Yours, etc,
Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
Sir, – You report that despite some concerns regarding time pressures, Pope Francis will likely meet survivors of abuse by church members (“Pope will meet abuse survivors as part of his visit to Ireland” August 2nd). This is welcome news, in spite of the fact that the main reason Pope Francis is coming to Ireland is to be present at the festival of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. But historical governance failures by church leaders in prioritising the reputation of the church above ensuring the protection of children does demand an ongoing response to survivors of abuse.
However, I do think that statements of some elements within our media and from high-profile figures in their relentless focus on the abuse issue during the build-up to the short visit of Pope Francis are bordering on anti-church.
To any reasonable person, the 81-year-old Pope Francis has demonstrated in word and action a commitment to the Gospel values of advocating for the most vulnerable and demanding that those in ministry within the church should be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep”.
I hope as a society we can accept that for many of us, the visit of Pope Francis is both a historic occasion and a joyous one. – Yours, etc,