RTE’s ‘Faith in crisis: a would you believe special.’

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Show me any thinking member of the Catholic Church who is not currently floundering in pursuit of a leadership to restore trust and confidence in the meaning of catholicism.

The church is embroiled in a plethora of allegations of clerical scandal from the bottom up and from the top down. Apart from claims of child abuse what is even worse is the charge of cover up.

Received wisdom dragging us back to our schools argued the pope is ‘infallible.’ There was even a time when was carried about in what was known as the sedia (saedia) gestatoria and once in that chair his every utterance was deemed infallible as he spoke ‘ex cathedra.’

Does anyone genuinely believe the current pope is infallible?

He too is in the dock with many other fellow bishops and cardinals for alleged cover-ups of child abuse world wide.

His authority and that of practically the entire hierarchy of the catholic church is on trial.

Against this backdrop people like myself were anxious to watch and listen to contributors on the above named programme: ‘Faith in crisis: a would you believe special.’

This was a very aggravating production which clearly ill judged what I as a viewer was seeking. I felt the panel was far too big. Of necessity this obliged the programme’s moderator to make sure that everyone’s voice was heard.

The downside of this was that critical points raised by crucially important contributors like Nuala O Loan, Professor James Mackie and Enda Mac Donagh simply didn’t get sufficient time to develop key points.

“I don’t see any structures of accountability in the catholic church.” Said Enda Mac Donagh.

Bishop Willie Walsh added:
“I am accountable only to Rome which is 3000 miles away.
Bishops are trapped in church structures.”

“I don’t think any of them have leadership qualities.” Mark Patrick Hederman chief abbot in Glenstal Abbey on the hierarchy of the catholic church in Ireland.

Commenting on the role of Rome he also said it should be about “the primacy of love and service not about power.”

Nuala O Loan said “the bishops are not victims. They are actors in church structures.
As I have listened I have become more and more uncomfortable.

“There is nothing that comes from Rome that gives me confidence there will be change.”

Professor Mackie said “the priesthood is part of the problem.”

Not alone were some of these key observations not probed during the programme ‘Faith in crisis: a would you believe special but the inaneness of other contributions were not shown for what they were. Sticking plaster ideas like ‘parish councils’ were being promoted as remedies for a cancer in the catholic church.
Why was this not robustly challenged?

Speaker after speaker spoke of ‘clericalism’ yet no one thought of telling us what this term actually means.

One definition reads: a policy of supporting the influence and power of the clergy in secular and political matters.

This is a subject meriting greater scrutiny.

[This article originally appeared on Slugger O’Toole]

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I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

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