Abbot Patrick and Irish Church

Abbot Patrick Hederman, OSBDonal O’Regan reports in the Limerick Leader of Saturday 31st July how the Abbot of Glenstal, Patrick Hederman revealed that he is  not sure that the Catholic Church in Ireland can restore the faith and trust that people once had in the organisation.

He was speaking on a “Would You Believe?” television programme on the faith crisis on RTE One on Sunday 25th July. This programme examined whether or not the Church can survive and asked what is needed  to restore people’s faith in it.

The programme said the Irish Catholic Church was facing one of the greatest crises in its history, with decades of scandal, revelation and a deep-seated culture of cover-up and secrecy having taken a terrible toll on a once sacred institution.

The programme reported that a generation of young people was losing faith and even interest in the Catholic Church with weekly Church attendances halved since 1980 and vocations to the priesthood all but evaporated.

Fr Abbot Patrick said this was a real moment of opportunity – what Pope John XXIII called “aggiornamento”, or what Mikhail Gorbachev referred to in 1988 as Perestroika.

Abbot Patrick continued saying “Everybody gets these moments where threy can either reinvent and start really asking themselves what does the Holy Spirit want us to do, or they can become frightened and batten down the hatches. And whether the present Church, as it now is, is capable of transforming itself, I’m not sure”.

He said that most changes came about because people were forced into them. “It happens when people’s backs are to the wall and there is no other move available to them.” However Abbot Patrick does not think “any of them have leadership qualities of that kind at the moment. I don’t think they could have. I think there are too many victims of the system in which they were educated and brought up, and there is too much negativity around them.

He said that most Christians would agree that there was a thing callded “The Primacy of Peter”. “That was meant to be ” he says, ” a primacy of love and service and not a primacy of power and juridstiction, so when they change that idiom, then people will begin again to listen”.