Recently, the abuse crisis facing the Catholic church has been particularly acute in Ireland. In February of 2012 Archbishop Martin of Dublin had this to say about the crisis of the Church in Ireland:
The real roots of the religious crisis in Ireland are deep and of a different character than many would wish to admit. They are linked with a crisis of faith, among individuals and within Irish society.
That crisis of faith then manifests itself in a crisis about the Church as an institution within a broader context of a change in the cultural infrastructure which had traditionally sustained the faith of people but which has become much more fragile over the years. Ireland is a highly secularised society and secularisation should not leave us unmoved.
I am not talking about crusading, but we must admit that unfortunately the Church in Ireland was slow and is slow in recognising the fragility of the infrastructure of faith and in many ways continues to think that the challenges of tomorrow can be addressed with the pastoral methods of yesterday. For their part many well-intentioned outsiders fail to understand the particular characteristics – both historical and contemporary – of the Irish Church and they fail to understand the depths of the current crisis.
The musical artist, Sinead O'Connor is certainly not an outsider and had direct experience with the institutions of the Catholic Church in Ireland. She spent 18 months in Grianán Training Centre which is a youth detention facility that inspired the famous movie the Magdalen Laundries. It was there that a nun gave her her first guitar. She also experienced childhood trauma and abuse.
Sinead O'Connor has been bringing attention to some of the issues for some time and wrote about the crisis of abuse and the Catholic Church in the Washington Post two years ago here
Here is an excerpt:
Almost 18 years ago, I tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on an episode of "Saturday Night Live." Many people did not understand the protest -- the next week, the show's guest host, actor Joe Pesci, commented that, had he been there, "I would have gave her such a smack." I knew my action would cause trouble, but I wanted to force a conversation where there was a need for one; that is part of being an artist. All I regretted was that people assumed I didn't believe in God. That's not the case at all. I'm Catholic by birth and culture and would be the first at the church door if the Vatican offered sincere reconciliation.
As the English poet Alexander Pope wrote, hope springs eternal. On this St. Patrick's day, this famous prayer of St. Francis sung by Sinead O'Connor is a fitting prayer for reconciliation and healing.