My Talks on Church Reform

As I launch this website I have already given five talks on Church reform, in Galway, Athenry, Castelbar, Limerick and Kinsale, and two talks in London. Having spent my life preaching and speaking, it is good to be back in business again, standing in front of people.  The first night or two were a bit like beginning a parish mission, wondering if anyone would turn up. Thankfully they did, and the attendances so far have been great, both in terms of numbers and involvement.

In my talk I give a brief summary of some of the key events in Church history out of which some of our present difficulties originated.  I tried to explain how certain decisions that were made for questionable motives have had serious consequences for the Church. I touch on how the early Church became closely associated with the Roman Empire, and how some of the culture, structures and style of governance date back to that time. I mention St. Augustine, and the notion that the human person is made up of two entities, soul and body, in conflict with each other, and how some of the Catholic attitudes to sex originated there. I inevitably deal with the Reformation, and the period that followed, when the Church became more identified with what is was against rather that what it was for. I talk about Vatican II, and, in the words of Hans Kung, of the two major ‘paradigm shifts’ that occurred there, but how ultimately a powerful, centralised Rome-dominated Church has partially blocked its implementation.

I attempt to outline the precise reforms needed, and how they might be brought about. I quote extensively from that extraordinary document of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, particularly from Chapter One, and I speculate a little on his chances of being able to push through the reforms that he clearly desires.

Each night there is a period of about forty minutes for comment and question from the audience. This has been the best part of the night for me, because the people who have attended each place have been very knowledgeable and committed to the Church, which made them great to listen to. I come away each evening thinking what a mistake the Church has made for the past forty years to effectively sideline these open-minded Catholics who were looking for a Church that would listen to the voice of the people. I have heard nothing from them that was not spoken out of love for the Church, and contained nothing to be afraid of, but rather a great deal to be welcomed.

Two talks in London were particularly interesting. One of these was to a group named The Companions of Cleopas.  I spoke to them one evening over dinner in Knightsbridge. They were a particularly interesting group that was made up mostly of native English Catholics, very well versed in the faith. They were more interested in hearing the story of my dealings with the Vatican, so I recounted that for them, and we had a great discussion over a lovely meal.

I have a further series of talks lined up, details of which can be found in the ‘Events’ section of this site. I will also be happy to travel to speak to any group, small or large, to which I am invited. I see this as a new ministry. I trust that it is part of God’s plan, and that He/She works in strange ways because “Unless the Lord build the city they labour in vain who build it”.