Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Pope can lead people to a brighter tomorrow

On that memorable evening in St Peter's Square, when the new pope stood at his study window, there was a rush of romantic freedom in the air.

Let us pray that the same sense of possibility and hope for a better tomorrow does not degenerate, yet again, into sterile conformity.

Pope Francis has been a challenging surprise. He is a tough-minded and tender-hearted man, exhibiting in his own life the principles he seeks to nurture in the lives of the people he serves.

However, we cannot expect an overnight revolution. What we can expect is a more attentive approach to the realities of today's world and a determination to repair the damage done by the Curia, the Vatican's civil service.

The Catholic Church can only benefit from penetrating and disturbing questions, which, while sometimes unsettling, can also lead us to reaffirm them with new insight, depth and conviction.

It is so easy to engage in an intellectually lazy withdrawal from the tension between faith and doubt that we all share, generating an inner self-authenticating glow that often parades under the name of 'spirituality'.

We cannot escape our responsibility to exercise our voice in the world, taking the consequences of doing so. We can only hope that Pope Francis will act to release the pent-up intelligence of the people.

Silencing dissent creates a very dark world that few would wish to inhabit.

PHILIP O'NEILL

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