The Pope's envoy to review the situation of the Church in Ireland draws a devastating first balance according to information from the Irish press. The Catholic Church in this country is "on the verge of collapse" as a result of the abuse crisis. The church has only five to ten years left to implement radical countermeasures, it said.
This is according to the daily newspaper "Irish Independent" on Monday (14.02.2011) in a report by U.S. Cardinal Sean O "Malley to Benedict XVI., which will be transmitted to Rome in the coming months.
The paper refers to a member of the Association of Catholic Priests' leadership, Tony Flannery. The latter, speaking at the annual meeting of the lay organization The People of God over the weekend, said O "Malley was giving the Irish church only ten years at most, in his own words, to avoid a situation "like many other European countries" where religion played only a marginal role.
Flannery said Boston Archbishop O "Malley recommended at a private meeting with the priests' association that the church desperately needs to give lay people and women more influence in decision-making processes.
Hard hit morally and financially
The abuse scandal had hit the Irish church particularly hard, morally and financially, in several waves. Claims for compensation brought several religious orders and dioceses to the brink of insolvency; the Vatican ordered an investigation.
Most recently, the national priests' association protested vehemently against a new translation of the Roman missal for divine service. The language used in it, which is closer to the Latin original, is not communicable to the faithful, he said.
Pope's letter soon to be a yes
In October of last year, the Vatican set the course for the upcoming visitations in the Church of Ireland, which has been badly shaken by abuse scandals, with a crisis summit of the main players. The Pope has entrusted the task to four experienced churchmen.
Preparation for the initiative made Benedict XVI. with his letter of 20. March of the same year, asking for forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy "in the name of the Church". In it, the pope expressed shame and remorse, said he was "shocked and hurt" by the sinful and criminal actions by clergy and called the perpetrators to account before secular and ecclesiastical courts. Clearly, he had also admitted at the time "serious misjudgments and failures" on the part of bishops.