Restoring trust in the Catholic Church

 

Sir, – Edmond Grace (Opinion, 22nd June) laments the “decline in respect and trust in the Catholic Church”, managing to articulate the patent clerical disgrace emanating from the child sex-abuse, while simultaneously protecting the apparently sacrosanct requirement for a strong stable hierarchical structure of a “self-selecting elite”.

Who says we need a self-selecting elite? Jesus most certainly didn’t. He also wasn’t into any form hierarchical hegemony, patently preferring to espouse an egalitarian absolutism woven with love, care and selflessness – no rank or elitism in sight.

Propagating a preciousness for church hierarchy and executive elitism does Christianity a fundamental disservice. Such has been at the heart of much discontent and corruptive manipulation honed and preserved over the centuries. The pomp and presumptuousness of much of the central Catholic executive, cocooned particular in the Vatican, belies any decent notion of Christianity in its wonderful simplicity as an inspirational allegory for wholesome living.

Cataloguing a one, two, three of clerical and church “pecca-maggiores”, Edmond Grace slickly tries to trump these with a one, two, three, four of church virtues vis-a-vis political, social and ethical virtues and “successes”. Fr Grace also blatantly smudges the church’s realities and responsibilities with political and statutory endeavour – an obvious ameliorating ploy to distract from the core commissions and omissions of a faded, jaded system.

He adroitly side-steps any mention such travesties as the Spanish Inquisition or the Richelieu approach to things Christian when surveying the wondrous deeds of Catholicism through the ages. The “self-selected elite” within the Roman Catholic hierarchy has most certainly not always covered itself in Christian glory.

What is truly needed is an authentic “Christian re-Reformation”, not just a Roman Catholic one. An honest re-appraisal of all things Christian and true-to-tenet basics of the teachings of Jesus Christ. The practical denouement of such an enterprise of renewal, nay transformation, could thus genuinely reform and begin to fully enact the real-Christian message.

Edmond Grace needs to know that the Pope offering “to acknowledge his fear in public” by telling the world that he was terrified by “the sin inside the church” can hardly be construed as hopeful ground-breaking change. Is his terror and fear borne out of the potential loss of power and pomp, or genuine contrition for the travesties of his clergy, and the grotesque cover-up operation which flourished, with himself a key camouflager?   There is hope only if Jesus Christ is allowed to pervade proceedings from here on in. – Yours, etc,

JIM COSGROVE,

Chapel Street,

Lismore,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – I must take issue with Edmond Grace’s assertions on the Catholic Church and trust. In relation to people no longer being happy to live under the “imposing shadow of church and state” he says it is to “no one’s advantage because, without trustworthy institutions, we are all vulnerable”.

People are no longer happy because the Catholic Church was and is an untrustworthy institution which looked after and continues to look after itself and its reputation as a priority over anything else, to the serious detriment of many people as we have witnessed in Ireland.

Putting our trust blindly in an untrustworthy institution as we did for centuries in this country has made us far more vulnerable and done far more damage than it would have done had we stood up to it sooner.

He also mentions Pope Benedict’s assertion that he was terrified by “the sin inside the church” and suggests such a gesture could “help us move beyond revulsion and shame in relation to the church”. If the Pope was really concerned about the broken trust and not more concerned with protecting the church, he would do far more than admit his “fear”. He’d co-operate fully with all investigations into clerical child rape and abuse, something the church hasn’t even come close to doing thus far. – Yours, etc,

RICHARD MORTON,

Coppinger Glade,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin

Sir, – Fr Edmond Grace in his article “Clerical disgrace symbolic of democracy in crisis” (June 22nd) , drew comparisons between the Catholic Church and democratic states and praised the former as “an important advocate for marginalised groups throughout the world”. He has quite conveniently glossed over its continued persecution and marginalisation of gay and transgender people, and its denial of their right to love and marry the person they choose. Not only have its pronouncements fueled hatred and intolerance, but they have also provided justification for punitive legislation against gay and transgender people the world over.

He also forgets the church’s role in perpetuating inequality between men and women through its reinforcement of rigid gender stereotypes and its opposition to contraception – consigning women to being little more than reproductive machines. As long as the church additionally insists on forcibly excluding women from its power structures, any comparison with democratic states is truly laughable. – Yours, etc,

ELOISE MCINERNEY,

Calle D’En Grassot,

Barcelona,

Spain.