A new, non-clerical Church can’t just be a happy, hippy democracy

A new, non-clerical Church can’t just be a happy, hippy democracy Father Brian D'Arcy Photo: Wenn/ IrishMirror

The clerical church is dying, says Fr Brian D’Arcy, now marking 50 years as an ordained priest, “and it’s not such a tragedy.” The celibate priesthood is over: the male priesthood is over. This is “a gift of the Holy Spirit” and out of such a transformation can come new seeds of life.

Well, he’s a priest, and I’m not, so he probably knows more about this that I do – a statement which, in itself, acknowledges his ordained authority.

When I consider structures of organisation, I can only draw on my experience in the lay world, and in my working life, which now stretches over five decades. And my overwhelming experience is that the key issue in any organisation is leadership.

For any enterprise to thrive, there must be good leadership, and the leader must act with authority. That doesn’t mean bullying, coercion, or silencing of opposing voices: but it does mean a sure touch and a firm vision.


In the newspaper and print industry, I have known successful Editors who have been, in effect, benign dictators. An old Fleet Street adage had it that “the Editor is always right – even when he’s wrong!” That’s to say, in the final analysis, the staff must trust the Editor’s judgement and decision, because he (or she) is the leader.

I always remember Maeve Binchy describing Douglas Gageby, the late Editor of the Irish Times, and the way he put his stamp on the newspaper – and commanded the staff, too. He only had to say “this will not do!” to have everyone, including Maeve, quaking in their boots.

In business, in management, in education – the head teacher always sets the ethic in a school – and in all fields of administration, it is leadership that is essential. Head-hunters are paid vast sums of money to find the leader who will make an enterprise function well.

A new Church  will need leadership: weak bishops and dithering ecclesiastics won’t cut the mustard”

The leader’s job is manifold, but part of his, or her, task is to defend the organisation. You cannot show leadership and keep attacking your own base. Corrections there must always be, but that’s not the same as cringing self-abasement or siding with your opponents.

Fr D’Arcy may well be right in saying that a new, non-clerical church will arise. There may well be married priests, and quite soon. There could well be female priests, though not so very soon. But a ‘non-clerical’ church cannot just be a happy, hippy democracy. It will need leadership: weak bishops and dithering ecclesiastics won’t cut the mustard.

The Church must indeed be led by the Holy Spirt, as Brian D’Arcy indicates. But it must also organise in the real world, and among “the crooked timber of humanity”.


Believe in the science (sometimes)

l We are urged to ‘believe the science’ in the matter of climate change. Yes, of course we should examine all the scientific evidence about global warming.

Strangely, though, we are seldom told to ‘believe the science’ when it comes to the development of unborn life. The biological science is as clear as can be, as any ultrasound scan will show, but here it’s ‘choice’ rather than scientific evidence that is upheld.


In breathing in, you’re…breathing in!

Following the controversy about yoga, after Bishop Cullinan said it was “not of Christian origin” (since it is essentially Buddhist), Eileen Gaughan, from Sligo notes in our letters’ page that yoga and Christian meditation can work together.

Perhaps so. Personally, I’m always amused by the Jewish wisecracks which makes fun of ‘the Jewish Buddhist’, with some down-to earth reflections.

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Deep inside you are 10,000 flowers. Each flower blossoms 10,000 times. Each blossom has 10,000 petals. You might want to see a specialist!