As the Papal Commission on Clerical Abuse meets this week in Rome my thoughts have drifted back to my appointment with Pope Francis at the end of August last year on the Navan Road. Let’s pray for the important work going on this week, that the Lord will bless it and give healing to all involved.


Unsought, unexpected invitation crashed into afternoon walk, eight tickets forged in sadness. Stuttering acceptance, privilege vying with pain, grateful to extraordinary Ordinary.

Two long periods of waiting divided by speedy drive to Navan road
Peppered with fear, fear of pain. Theirs not mine, rage, red raw. Mine merely raw.

Tired old ordinary supreme pontiff rocking slightly into pool of hard truths
Transforms into engaged eager listener, seeking to know, harder still to understand.

Darkness swirled around him, bowing but not breaking, underworld strong but not enough.
Of the ninety minutes, I looked deeply, and heart-listened for eighty.

I looked and saw in this beautiful Shepherd: hope, strength and above all joy,
Amidst the pain, the sorrow, the burden…deep down a ripple-less well of Gospel Joy.

I proffered reform and old Roncalli and he replied Rosmini?
We met on lamentation of prophet-less leadership.

Twice I kissed his hands, my old rosary now renewed by his blessing,
As he left I knew I had been in the presence of one who knows Jesus.

His holiness?… apt and true, rock assured, I was reminded of another who knew Jesus,
Thirty years before, in the Upper Room, in the small village, ‘that little springtime’,
In the Burgundy Hills, our brother and friend, Roger.


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