Longford's Mattie Fox: Onus is on the Church to pay for upcoming papal visit

Mattie Fox


Mattie Fox



Tipperary invite to Pope Francis to play hurling during his visit to Ireland in August

A very astute former member of the Catholic Church often compared the Church to army structures

It reminded the writer of this column, during the week, of how accurate that description actually was.

No doubt that strategy hasn’t changed.

Taking that comparison at face value it makes great sense to use the analogy of the Pope being like a supposed Army Commander, who has had the real power removed from his ultimate control.

Still, he has enough absolute power to make his feelings known, now and then. Often surprising the Curia.

Good for him.

Pope Francis, is a special man, great for the Church, and it’s a most welcome development that he’s coming to Ireland in August.

The Papal visit is the most authoritative public display of where Ireland stands in Ecumenical regard.

By comparison with, and viewed through the prism of the 1979 visit, this announcement has barely raised the temperature.
The Church will take note of the absence of similar frenetic atmospherics, this time.

They’ll realise, if they didn’t know already, that people don’t forget easily.

However, this Pope is literally a Godsend for those who long for the days of a properly behaving, fully functioning church.

Although the Pope is the absolute head and voice of authority, it’s been speculated that some in the Vatican aren’t comfortable with his expressions from time to time.

The problem with the Church, in reality is that the ordinary priests, who do so much to keep the church alive, and somehow current, along with the plain people who attend Mass, are far removed from the hierarchy.

The Church survives in spite of its hierarchy, not because of it.

Pope Francis when starting his reign made it clear that he was going to live in a relatively ordinary home, and that he wouldn’t wear the lavish footwear, or clothing of previous popes.

Those who try to rule and ‘advise’ the church, the Curia, did their very best to get him to change his mind, about living in such menial surroundings, putting forward all sorts of reasons, but Francis wasn’t for turning.

Pope Francis is a good man; a humble man; who genuinely wishes to make great changes in the church, but it won’t be easy.

When the Church was forced, against everything it stood for, to finally admit that terrible abuse was carried out by members of its brethren some of us breathed a sigh of relief.

We felt that was a turning point, and the church would lose all its colossal wealth, and through that process, become once again a real church, not preoccupied with accumulation of wealth, but rather focusing solely on the Gospel.

How naive we were.

The Church has continued to expand its fiscal base, and although there are no absolute records available, several experts have estimated that although they couldn’t make a precise stab at the exact amount, the Vatican is worth around 15 - 30 Billion dollars. That’s just the Vatican. The Irish “branch” of the Vatican is worth over four billion. Ditto in other Catholic territories, which also boast large deposits and assets.

Maybe it would have been better if the Church had divested itself of its wealth. Maybe it would be better able to return to the role Christ set out for his disciples.

The Pope’s visit to Ireland will cost the Irish Laity several million.

The entire cost of the visit will be in the region of thirty million euro.

Since this is not a State visit, the Church must come up with the funds themselves. So here we go again, back to the laity.

Reminds one of the pennies collected from very poor people back in the days when lavish churches were built oozing grandeur.

Why can the Catholic Church not pay for the visit themselves?

We don’t mind in the least paying handsomely to support our priests.

It’s the hierarchy that’s the problem.

Pope Francis, thankfully, thinks for himself.

Ireland needs Pope Francis, and it will be elevating to have him among us. His influence will definitely affect many things, and we look forward to that.

But the collections are really awful.