We cannot lose heart, writes Seamus Ahearne
‘We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.’ Augustine was and is right. We cannot lose heart. We cannot be dragged down by ‘protectionist policies’ in Rome. I feel sad about Tony Flannery. He has been a breath of fresh air in the Irish Church. The ACP has lifted the spirits of priests in Ireland and given them a space/forum to work together as Church people. This is then a difficult time and a wearying moment. That Summary report (from the Visitation) said very little but it probably said too much. And this may be an indicator of how it sees the way forward for the Renewal of the Church in Ireland. This method breaks the hearts of those of us who try so hard, to make sure the Word becomes Flesh daily in Ireland.
The action around Ton reminds me of an article written by Bernard Haring (many years ago). He wrote of how he was treated by the Nazis and wrote of how he was treated by the Vatican. He said that the treatment by the Vatican hurt him much more. It tore his heart apart to think of such people (his companions in faith) savaging his efforts to make sense of the living Gospel. That was a strong comment.
Anselm gave us that memorable phrase – ‘fides querens intellectum ‘ (faith seeking understanding) as the way of life for the thinking Christian; the struggling prophet; the active priest; the searching theologian. Was Tony condemned for this? But then – do we know the actual charge? Is it specific? Will it be made clear? That aspect too is serious.
I believe in our Church leaders in Ireland. They have had to cope with very troublesome times. I hope they too will fight for Tony and others, in our country and all who try to make sense of God; of Christ; of the Good News in these time. Silence is failure. May they have the gumption and the guts to be the leaders they are called to be. They are called to be strong and not to bow to those who are distant and fearful in Rome. The Gospel asks no less.