The Pope’s Visit
Irish Jesuit theologian Gerry O’Hanlon expressed excitement that Pope Francis has confirmed that he will travel to Ireland from 25 to 26 August this year and says that he will be very welcome. The visit is timed to coincide with the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, with a plan to say a final mass in the Phoenix Park. Gerry O’Hanlon SJ says that, despite the welcome he will likely receive, Pope Francis is visiting a different Ireland from the one Pope John Paul famously visited in 1979, which drew record crowds to the Phoenix Park. This time the country is much more secularised, and the clerical sexual abuse scandals and how they were handled, has eroded the moral authority of the church.
The former Irish Provincial hopes that the Pope’s visit will do more than just generate excitement. He hoped that it will offer people an opportunity to go deeper and listen to what Francis says as well as try to follow his process of implementing a synodal church that listens to, and learns from, the experience of its members.
In response to the recent controversies surrounding the WMFD removing the picture of a gay couple from their catechetical book Let’s Talk, Let’s be Family, and the editing of an interview with US Bishop David O’Connell where he talks about the Pope and his inclusivity around all types of families including gay ones, Gerry notes that the Pope is often ahead of local churches in terms of listening carefully and responding to issues regarding sexuality and gender. He explained more to Pat Coyle.