Thought for the day - 21/09/2013 - Catherine Pepinster – Editor of the Tablet
Crowds will be flocking to the Catholic cathedral in Edinburgh for the ordination of a new archbishop this morning. The appointment of Leo Cushley comes after a series of scandals left the Catholic Church in Scotland badly wounded. There have been serious allegations of abuse at a Scottish school, a priest kicked out of his parish for whistleblowing, regarding abuse, and most devastating of all, the departure of Leo Cushley's predecessor Cardinal Keith O'Brien after scandalous revelations about his sexual overtures to young priests in his care.
The low morale and precarious state of the Scottish Church came to mind as I read Pope Francis words in the interview he gave that made headlines around the world this week. "The Church could fall like a house of cards," he said.
Scotland is not the only place where the Catholic Church is in trouble. There have been sexual scandals around the globe and financial ones in Rome. Pope Francis was elected by cardinals who recognised there has to be change, including reform at the top.
But there's an irony in what Pope Francis said this week. When he warned that the Church might crumble he pointed to it being beset by rules. In fact many of its troubles have been caused by people who broke the rules and broke the law.
What Pope Francis focused on in his comments was the way in which the Catholic Church has become in many people's eyes obsessed by other rules, by constantly focusing on abortion, on contraception and on gay issues. People often feel that bishops have been finger-wagging at lay people while not sorting out the troubles of the Church itself. This criticism of others while failing to address one's own problems is what Christ spoke of in the Gospels when he warned people to stop fretting about the speck in someone else's eye while not dealing with the plank in theirs...