After Pope Francis’ lukewarm reception in Ireland, it may be the words of the Taoiseach LeoVaradkar that will be remembered.
His searing assessment of “brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic Church and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims” may go down in history with Columbanus’ famous letter of advice to Pope Boniface IV in 612 AD.
This great Irish educator and missionary of Europe did not flinch to rebuke the pope for failing to address a serious theological threat in the seventh century: “Watch, for the sea is stormy and whipped up by fatal blasts …. Death walks the waves …. Watch, for water has now entered the vessel of the Church, and the vessel is in perilous straits.”
The flames of self-immolation ignited by bishops from Boston to Dublin and in Pennsylvania and Australia through the systematic cover-up of atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons may burn furiously for, as Dante allegedly observed:
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality” and do nothing.
The Pope failed to acknowledge the calls of surviving victims for mandatory abuse reporting.
After celebrating the Mass in Phoenix Park, Pope Francis might have emulated the example of his namesake who in 1205 gave away all of his silken fine clothes and jewellery and possessions to serve the suffering poor and outcasts of society.
The rich young man named Francis renounced all right to his inheritance from his wealthy father and put on the brown robe of a peasant determined that there must be no man anywhere poorer than he.
The Pope might have invited all the assembled bishops and priests to join him in a group disrobing of their symbols of power and wealth to establish a fund for abuse survivors.
Pope Francis has departed, but the sounds of musicians still linger, giving voice to the abused and neglected children in Mother Ireland: “And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens,
My four green fields ran red with their blood” said she.
-Robert F Lyons