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Fr Billy Swan

When we look back on the history of the Irish Catholic Church, there are aspects to be immensely proud of - women and men whose witness inspires and developments that have produced so much good. There are also moments that make us deeply shameful. As we go forward, we do so acutely conscious of both the lights and the shadows of our story and with a sharp historical consciousness. We can neither airbrush out the darker side of our history or forget the wonderful heritage left to us by our Christian ancestors. A synodal model of Church will see us walking together with brothers and sisters who have been wounded from past experiences and who are still scarred. It will be necessary going forward to be sensitive to people who have been wounded and care for those who have been hurt. Walking with the wounded keeps us grounded, humble and yet strong in our resolve to work for healing and reconciliation. It spurs us on to show the true face of Christ to those who long to see it. Walking with and listening to the wounded helps the Church to renew itself and start over. Our mission today continues to be the work re-building trust. While acknowledging past wrongs and probing their causes, we believe that we still can treasure all that is good, true and beautiful about the Christian faith and help people explore its healing power and potential.

To conclude this ten part series:

In 1970, a young professor named Joseph Ratzinger made this prophesy: ‘From today’s crisis will emerge a Church that has lost a great deal…it will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will be a more spiritual church…it will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute’.[1] There is an increasing sense among Irish Catholics that in a post-scandal, post-COVID landscape, the present is very much like starting over again for a Church that has lost a great deal – loss of numbers, status, property and credibility to name just a few. But in a paradoxical way, she will be richer in the measure that she will be newly prayerful, newly human, newly formative, newly ecclesial, newly prophetic, newly courageous, newly informed, newly participative, newly missionary and newly historical. ‘Behold, I make all things new’ says the Lord (Is. 43:18; Rev. 21:5). May we all embrace a new Irish Catholicism with hope and joy.

[1] Joseph Ratzinger, ‘What will the Church look like?’ in Faith and the Future, Ignatius Press, 2009, 116.


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