Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Church Crisis - A Rebirth in Pain

On 4 July 1994 Vaclav Havel, poet, playwright, and peace activist,  then President of the Czech Republic, was award the Liberty Medal by the American government in a ceremony in Philadelphia.

In his speech he reflected on the extraordinary changes taking place on a global scale, changes that have only increased in the intervening years.

He spoke of death and new birth.

He said: 'Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.'

I was very struck when I came across these words recently.

They speak powerfully to the situation we are experiencing within the Catholic Church here in Ireland and in many parts of the world.

Something is 'on the way out' - a whole model of Church rooted in clericalism and authoritarianism. Before our very eyes we see it 'crumbling, decaying and exhausting itself'.

Something new is being 'painfully born', arising from the 'rubble'. But what is being born is as yet  'indistinct' for we live in a 'hinge period' in Church history.

Such a time demands courage and hope from courageous souls. We are being asked to hold firm in the trust that, despite signs to the contrary,  the same divine Spirit who brooded over the dark waters at the dawn of history drawing creation out of chaos, watches over this new work of God's creative goodness.