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Church and State must listen to poor people

Published 21/10/2016

The tragic fault that weakens so many institutions is the suppression of the critical voice. This applies equally to religious and secular institutions.

With regard to religious institutions, there has always been a tension between the priestly caste that ministers to the status quo and the prophetic voice of constructive critique that points to further horizons.

In any hierarchical organisation, evaluative insight does not trickle down from the top; it attempts to trickle upwards, but tends to be stopped in its tracks by the inculcation, with increased intensity, of orthodoxy and resignation.

Human rational living is constituted by demanding reasons for the way things are. And there has been too much emphasis on the Church's teaching as a guide to living. What, you may ask, do we put in its place? Nothing should be in that place, except perhaps, far more emphasis on the importance to the Church and State of listening and learning - particularly listening to the cry of the poor.

Pope Francis strikes me as one who is deeply committed to the principle of respect for persons by seeking to take into his view the view of the other by genuine attentiveness to the great range of wisdom embedded in ordinary lives.

PHILIP O'NEILL

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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