Whilst we are probably not there yet, I am coming round to the notion that perhaps the only thing that will save the Irish Church is a revolution. Of course I am not speaking of violence. This is not a call to arms. No, this is a call to engage in a very pro-active way with the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is our call through our Baptism and Confirmation. We are called to be alive in the Spirit. We are to be imbued with the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us we are to be co – workers with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit refreshes, renews, rejuvenates. Why ‘revolt’ now? I guess because I really believe that time is short and that we are losing the battle for the Church on a weekly basis.
The reasons for revolution in my opinion can be grouped under two headings which I broadly label that which we have done, or indeed continue to do, and the things we are failing to do.
WATCHWORD OF THIS REVOLUTION?
‘Give us back Our Church!!’ Who is this addressed to? In a way, no one in particular, and in another way to everybody. It is addressed to Irish society, to the media, to the episcopacy, to the extreme left wing Catholics and the extreme right wing Catholics. Yes, to all these and more. We can at least begin by shouting it into the ether!
WHAT ARE THE DEMANDS OF THIS REVOLUTION?
Any revolution worth its salt has some charter, theses, or demands. Something we can unfurl and read at the top of a hill or bellow out whilst standing up on a rock near a Mass Rock. This is no less true of this revolution. So what then are the main tenets of this revolution? Indeed has this revolution a name? I think it might be called
The Pastoral Revolution of the Laity
This revolution is taking a stand against: clericalism, abuse of power, the male dominated Church, the cheapening of the Sacraments especially Holy Communion and Confirmation through the annual conveyor belt, dishing out the sacred to all and sundry regardless of faith or practice, and our unsustainable dominance of the education system. This list is by way of example, and is not exhaustive.
This revolution is driven by a desire to become a more Christ-centred Church. This means a commitment to both the reform and renewal of the Church. Reform and renewal are not the same. I believe reform is necessary before renewal can take place. Part of reform is acknowledging the errors of the past and being truly contrite for them. Renewal might include Confirmation offered in Transition Year, and both Holy Communion and Confirmation offered later than they are now.
LEADERSHIP FROM ON HIGH OR BELOW?
The leadership of the Church today is in the hands of good Holy and clever men. However there is a serious lack of the prophetic voice. Words and apparent willingness to bring about change seem all too often to founder on the rocks of caution or worse still political correctness. I had hoped for some serious reform and renewal initiative from on high so to speak, but how long do we wait? In any case what Revolution worthy of the name ever originated in the plump comfortable cushion of power? No this revolution is going to be lay led because the Church of tomorrow is not only going to be a Church of the laity, it will be lay led.
As yet I have no date for the formal start of the revolution but I will keep you posted.