New Pope's Challenge: Gather the Flock

Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013 02:02 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A top priority of the new pope must be to woo back former parishioners who have fled the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of its mushrooming scandals, an influential Irish publisher says.

“Sure, there are debates about how the church handles child sex abuse, the Vatican bank, Wikileaks, and the Curia,’’ Niall O’Dowd, founder of the Irish Voice newspaper and IrishCentral.com, writes in an editorial.

“Very little however, has been said about the fact that huge numbers are deserting the church in droves. That is not only about the sex abuse issue but also because millions feel the church is now a cold house for them, far too conservative and intrusive in its teachings.’’

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O' Dowd says the church puts an “overwhelming focus on crime and punishment issues,’’ but “very little on the good deeds and future changes’’ that will bring those who have left the church back to the flock.

“You sense that the Cardinals currently in conclave are like shepherds who have lost their flock but have yet to notice,’’ O’Dowd says.

The next pope, he adds, must ensure Catholics “feel wanted and needed’’ in a church that gives every appearance of “indifference and a focus on shadow not substance.’’


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