When silence is not golden

De Facto

GIVE VOICE The silence surrounding the deep divisions within and challenges confronting the Catholic Church must be broken.


De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Sometimes it’s easier to keep quiet, to say nothing. We all do it sometimes, personally or as part of ‘group think.’ It is damaging, especially when an institution like Mother Church stays silent when speaking out is necessary. The Church’s handling of the sexual abuse of children is one example, from the original silence right through to a litany of deafening silences. Silence is not always golden.  
The Church has been too silent in the case of Redemptorists priest Tony Flannery who has been ‘silenced’ for the past ten years. He was never afforded common courtesy, justice or fair play. Church HQ (CDF) bounced the issue to the Redemptorists who returned the volley to the CDF. Imagine, adults (all men!) who profess faith in Jesus Christ, shirking in this silence of justice failure.
Tony Flannery has led church missions, services and presentations for decades. Yet he was silenced because he spoke, saying no more or less than a myriad of other Church people, male and female, on issues of sexuality, ordination and the role of women.
Women are still not formally permitted to proclaim the Gospel or preach at Mass, let alone preside. Yet, the vast majority of people who attend Church and support the institutional Church are women. Rather than being asked to make tea and make phone calls many women want to make decisions.   
Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx broke silence on Catholic teaching on homosexuality: “The catechism is not set in stone. One may also question what it says.”
He continued: “Homosexuality is not a sin. It corresponds to a Christian attitude when two people, regardless of gender, stand up for each other, in joy and sorrow…LGBTQ+ people are part of creation and loved by God, and we are called upon to stand against discrimination … Those who threaten homosexuals and anyone else with hell have understood nothing.”
America Magazine reports: “The cardinal said these questions had already been discussed six years ago at the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican. Even then he had said: ‘People live in an intimate loving relationship that also has a sexual form of expression. And we want to say that this is not worth anything?’ Cardinal Marx also indicated that it would not be easy to reach a consensus on the issue in the church. ‘In Africa or in the Orthodox churches, there are completely different views in some quarters. It does people no good if we divide ourselves on this issue, but we mustn’t stand still, either’.”
In Church life, the Synodal Pathway is the new show, the only show, in town with Pope Francis leading the way. He is asking clergy to become listeners, to allow people in the pew (and those who have long left the pew) to speak and create opportunities for listening and dialogue, an inverted pyramid. The Synod is not confined to ‘fully paid-up Church members’ but open to ALL.  
We have to hear what needs to be said, no holds barred. The invitation to people to speak cannot come with conditions. People have to be allowed to speak about any issue, whether it is pleasing to the ear or not.   
Speaking at the opening Mass for the Synod conference Cardinal Mario Grech said: “What about the general silence concerning the deep divisions within the Catholic church? Between conservatives and liberals?... What about the continuous struggle to make the priesthood of the baptised work hand in hand with sacramental priesthood? What about the role of women in the Church? How can one explain we have Catholics who want to exclude certain categories from our pews?”
Cardinal Grech also said: “But, perhaps, we have not quite understood what the synodal process is all about. This is not a process of revolution: the Pope does not want to change the Church into something that it is not. This is not a wiping out of tradition. This is not a process of democratisation. Rather, the synodal process is a time for speech. A time to let the voice of the Church speak and bring forward the issues, the problems that inhabit our synodal Church.”
It is a time to break the silence.