Church ‘not open to any challenge’

Retired Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh has described Pope Benedict’s leadership of the Church as one which was “not open to any challenge or re-examination of its doctrinal or moral teaching”.

Writing in The Furrow, Bishop Walsh described Benedict’s decision to retire as “courageous” and “very human”. He also admired Benedict’s “personal bravery” in admitting that neither his mind nor body were up to the demands of the modern papacy.

Bishop Walsh acknowledged that Benedict would be seen as a very conservative pope but said he was a man of “deeply held convictions”.

“As pope, he continued to oversee a Church which was not open to any challenge or re-examination of its doctrinal or moral teaching. He appears as a man driven by the duty to preserve the integrity of the traditional teaching.”

Bishop Walsh met the pope emeritus twice, in 2010 to discuss child abuse scandals, and in 2006.

“I was somewhat apprehensive about meeting Pope Benedict for the first time in private. He immediately put me at ease and I very quickly found myself speaking freely and honestly about the pain of people who wanted to be loyal to the Church but who found themselves living at variance with some of its teachings.

“I certainly had the impression of a man who shared deeply in their pain. He spoke of how we must try to better explain our teaching as opposed to any insistence on obedience.

“I was impressed that he was taking the more positive ‘we must explain’ rather than the ‘they must obey’ approach.”


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