The Hope of my Roman Catholic Friends

I know so many Roman Catholics. I minister to a lot of Roman Catholics. A number of Roman Catholics minister to me, bringing me life and joy and love.

Those relationships mean that I live with their hope.

The news that the pope was going to retire brought that hope out into the open. It is an extraordinary moment where a conservative pope has, in his last major act, redefined the papacy as we know it for our lifetimes. From now on, those who select a pope will not presume that person must go on through the weariness of old age to death. They have new expectations that could well lead to younger popes and that makes the hopes of those I love rise.

And that hope is almost unbearable to behold.

I’ve just heard that Keith Patrick O’Brien has resigned in the wake of a number of allegations being made against him by three priests and an ex-priest. (Such talk has been doing the round privately for some time). I understand that he disputes these allegations.

The Roman Catholic Church needs now to say how these allegations will be investigated. The now ex-Cardinal’s resignation doesn’t remove the need for those who have brought these allegations to hear the truth spoken, whatever that truth may be.

Though I am not immediately with Roman Catholic friends, I can feel their hope rising for a different kind of leadership.

The opposition that the Roman Catholic Church has made to gay couples being able to be married has been pretty vile and some things that have been said have come from the mouth of Keith Patrick O’Brien who was named a Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year in 2012. If these allegations are proved to be true, people will call him worse than that this time. If not, then he has been unjustly and horribly accused.

I take no pleasure from his departure and I don’t think I know anyone in any of the churches who will. This brings none of us any good.

Today I bind my prayers with the aching hopes of so many Roman Catholics I love. And I leave all I say and think about these things there.


  1. Well said. Roman Catholics have largely been ill-served by the hierarchy. Local election of Bishop’s would do much to reverse this.

  2. frdougal says

    Very well said. A case of prayer and silence being the best approach at this time.

  3. Melissa Holloway says

    The phrase ‘those I love’ is a phrase I learned from you and from St. Mary’s. To use it is powerful maybe because it relieves some ambiguity about how to think when things are fuzzy.

  4. “We cannot just sit back and spout pious phrases. Yes, the “strength of God” is decisive; yet if I understand properly the Paulian paradox, then that strength requires our weakness in order to manifest itself. It can manifest itself in our weakness, but not in our indifference, sloth, bitterness, or cynicism.”
    Tomas Halik “Night of the Confessor”

  5. Rosie Bates says

    Many of us have held this situation before God in silent prayer and the pain of the local Roman Catholic community is also evident to me. Without pre-judging I worry too about the nature of silence and when to keep it in the ‘and then they came for me’ way. Sadly, I have on too many occasions been the lone voice in a sea of silence and repression and victims’ complaints were eventually upheld by proper authorities. We need to pray in silence for wisdom and discernment to be graced upon all the relevant authorities who work in freedom from church constraints around these kinds of issues. I have found them vigilant and, sorry to say it, more helpful than church appointed authorities who may in some diocese or corporation lack the expertise, sensitivity and courage required. Victims are not aided by paper pushers but by listeners who know what to do with truth. We are called in faith, hope and love to pray that the mere paper pushers will be replaced by footwashing servants – for the cleansing of temples is a painful process for all concerned.

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