March 15 | comments icon 3 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-BLACK-SMOKE-WED

We turn our attention to leadership of the Church

This week's editorial

The world awaited the election of a new Pope as the Scottish Catholic Observer went to press this week, and the SCO has received a significant increase the numbers of in calls, emails and letters from the Catholic community throughout Scotland and beyond over past few weeks for which it is very grateful. While the majority of messages have been supportive of what the Church in Scotland is doing to respond to this difficult time of resignations and uncertainty—and of what the Catholic press has done in covering the recent events that have diminished the ‘moral authority’ of the Church—there remains a tone of pain, worry and anger over what has been happening, and about what lies ahead.

Correspondents and callers have, in turn: questioned the Papal resignation; the timing and motives of those who made the accusations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien; the journalists who broke the story and the commentators who have subsequently been asking the difficult questions and calling for the reform of Church practices in the aftermath. In summary, not very Christian, but very human reactions of looking elsewhere for someone to blame rather than the painful process of looking within, within our Church and ourselves.

From the scathing whispers after pastoral letters were read in parishes—whispers asking who knew what, when and for how long—it is apparent the real disappointment and anger is directed at those in trusted senior positions within the Church. And without full transparency in any subsequent Vatican investigations—for trial by media is neither fair nor impartial, as the tabloid press in particular proved—that damaged trust cannot be properly repaired.

The lay Faithful, already soul searching during Lent, are now asking ourselves why we did not spot, realise, and speak up on the problems that have come to light sooner? Doubts creep in. Did we spend so long protecting the Church that is being marginalised by an increasingly secular society that we forgot to protect those it is serving?

As the College of Cardinals entered the conclave this week we turn our attention to leadership of the Church. We pray for the next Pope and for those who choose and advise him. We pray for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, especially its president, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, in the work that lies ahead to restore the Catholic Church in Scotland to its rightful respected place. We pray for the priests and members of the religious orders whose vocations have been made all the more difficult in recent times. We pray ourselves for the courage to keep the Faith in spite of the how difficult the path becomes, for the lay Faithful are the Church. Let us hope that the next white smoke and the Vatican and the shout of Habemus Papam helps to restore our confidence in a strong Papacy and the tremendous benefit that offers to the global community.

Our crosses may be heavier to bear this Holy Week than previously, but Easter lies ahead and, we pray, the rebirth of our Faith and Church.

Comments - 3 Responses

  1. Jo says:

    I would like to say that “we” the “lay faithful” did not choose to “protect the church” from “the problems” that have come to light. The leaders of the church did that, not the faithful.

    It may be “unChristian” to demand answers but we aren’t speaking here of mere “problems” but, since last weekend, criminal acts committed against children. Those acts were not even independently investigated by the church. That is wrong. The backlash is suffered by innocent priests who are tainted by the crimes, not mere sins, of others. We are taught to think of the church as the Body of Christ. What have our leaders done to the Body of Christ through such deceit?

    Until the Church hierarchy in Scotland face the truth, admit it and take responsibility for it we cannot be taken seriously. I think ordinary catholics have had enough.

    These “crosses” we are having to bear are not mere burdens over which we have no control. They are on our shoulders because of those who have led us and their failure to act responsibly. Please don’t ask ordinary catholics to offer to carry those crosses. Our own Bishops can help themselves by having the courage to face the truth and to do so publicly. Now. While they fail to show that courage they betray the church, the faithful and God too.

    I hope all catholics will write to the Bishops Conference imploring them to seize the opportunity before them. It is the only way forward if the Church in Scotland is to survive this sorry mess.

  2. Jo says:

    “Correspondents and callers have, in turn: questioned the Papal resignation; the timing and motives of those who made the accusations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien; the journalists who broke the story and the commentators who have subsequently been asking the difficult questions and calling for the reform of Church practices in the aftermath. In summary, not very Christian, but very human reactions of looking elsewhere for someone to blame rather than the painful process of looking within, within our Church and ourselves.”

    On questions raised about the timing of the allegations against Keith O’Brien I do not think the questions were unreasonable. I asked those questions myself.

    I also asked why these four men had waited thirty years to bring a formal complaint and then abandoned an official investigation in favour of going to the press just as Keith O’Brien was preparing to go to Rome to participate in electing a new Pope.

    I questioned the position of the three priests involved who continue to serve in their respective parishes without their parishioners knowing who they are. I have no issue with their decision to bring a complaint but I have major problems with the media route they ultimately opted for.

    As for criticism of the journalist, Catherine Deveney, anyone who watched even one of her appearances on various news programmes following the Sunday Observer article could not fail to pick up on the fact that this was no impartial journalist simply breaking a story. Ms Deveney’s whole approach suggested she had an ongoing agenda and she failed utterly to disguise her personal hostility towards the Catholic Church. She also did not get through a single interview without mentioning same-sex marriage or same-sex adoption. Why does either issue have to do with the allegations made against Keith O’Brien? Nothing is the answer to that one. Yet she laboured on those points during interview after interview.

    SCO’s own Editor, Liz Leydon, appeared alongside Ms Deveney along with John Haldane and two others in one particular debate. Ms Deveney was the only one who remained sullen throughout the whole thing and she was extremely rude to John Haldane at one point. Liz Leydon remained dignified throughout the programme. Ms Deveney had the nerve to agree with a Gay Rights activist, who appeared later in the programme, that the Church should get involved in issues concerning poverty and social justice. The Church is absolutely involved already in those areas and the work it does is well known. Why would a journalist not know that?

  3. Caroline Shaw says:

    I saw that same “particular debate”. I didn’t find Catherine Deveney sullen. I found her serious, controlled and intelligent. I think anyone who questions the timing of allegations of historical abuse should consider why a victim takes time, even years, before he comes forward with his story. Where there has been an abuse of power, it is possible that it takes a long time and changes of circumstance before victims have the courage to come forward. It is very worrying that the motives of the accusers should be questioned before the result of any proper investigation. This is why people don’t come forward to complain – they fear they will be damned twice.

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