Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paddy Byrne on Challenges Facing Irish Catholic Church: "This Is Not a Time for Safe Hands"

Fr. Paddy Byrne writing in The Nationalist (Carlow, Ireland) this week, about the process by which Catholic bishops are selected: as he notes, it is entirely secret, with no input from the people who will be shepherded by a new bishop, and with an overwhelming emphasis on choosing a bishop with "a safe pair of hands" who has never said a word to question Vatican dictates, especially in the area of birth control, sexual morality, and women's ordination.

Byrne writes,

The hands of Jesus Christ are never safe and comfortable. His hands deliberately embraced a cross that brings with it a solidarity and fundamental mission to the poor and downtrodden. The leadership model of Jesus Christ is fuelled by service and love. Jesus courageously challenges debilitating structures that choke the vibrancy of good people who long for new life and hope.

This is not a time for safe hands.

I completely agree.  For any institution that hopes to have a vibrant future--whether the institution is sacred or secular--it is sheer folly to invest in a rigid model of power, control, and conformity.  The path to life demands risk, adaptability, and above all, the ability to expand an institution's boundaries as it meets new demands.

The path John Paul II and Benedict chose for the Catholic church at the end of the 20th century--the restorationist path--points the way to death.