Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Bizarre relationship between Catholic Church and flock

Pope Formosus, the 9th-Century Pope who was dug up nine months after his death and put on trial by his successor, Pope Stephen VI, was the recipient of the application of canon law.

He was dug up and prosecuted for offending his rival, Stephen, when he was a sitting Pope.

The new Pope, Stephen, in fairness, complied with due process and appointed legal counsel to defend Formosus's corpse.

I cannot help thinking of the trial of Formosus, surely one of the most absurd episodes in the history of the development of 'canon law', whenever I hear or read about Irish Catholics expressing upset about the decisions of the powers that be in Rome.

Can someone please explain to me why so many feel unable to shake themselves free of the self-appointed successors of Stephen, and all the other despots that laid down the medieval set of regulations that continue to dominate the administration of the absurd institution that is the Vatican state?

The essential goodness of loyal church followers is matched only by the cynicism of the leaders of a church that cannot in all fairness be accused of losing touch, when in truth its interests never really coincided with the followers in the first place.

It seems that history's oldest bad habit is the bizarre relationship that exists between the power brokers of the Vatican City and the flock it herds.

This relationship is of course abusive. Commentators on the debate about whether bishops should resign or not make the mistake of forgetting that the organisation to which they choose to submit can do whatever it wishes with its vassals. So, stop thinking democracy, and start thinking like a slave, and you won't be too disappointed.

And for those who want to know, Formosus was found guilty under canon law and his corpse was cast into the Tiber, an unconsecrated end for a recipient of the fair and thorough process of church-made law.

Declan Doyle

Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny

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