The piece below is an extract from an article written by Brendan Hoban.
"There’s a lively sub-culture in Irish Catholicism of individuals and groups who encourage and reassure the leadership of our Church not to change anything. They feed the denial and the cognitive dissonance of distressed Catholics – from the mitre to the pew – and they criticise those who welcome change as dissident and disloyal.
They write in newspapers they describe as ‘Catholic’ though they have little sense of the breadth of that term. They travel the country giving lectures and pep-up talks to the fearful and fragile who want to be convinced that keeping out the tide is a better strategy than learning how to swim. And some of them are clerics and theologians, wearing their naked ambition for promotion on their sleeves.
An example of this was a recent profile of the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Browne, on the American Catholic Crux website, by Michael Kelly. A report from ‘Dublin, Ireland’ and intended for mainly American consumption, presents a glowing report on the extraordinarily positive, almost miraculous effect on the Irish Church of the appointment of Archbishop Brown.
According to Kelly, Archbishop Brown is ‘saving the Irish Church’; he has had a huge influence on the Irish government re-establishing the Irish Embassy in Rome; his engaging personality has impressed politicians; his ‘normal-guy ethos and engaging style’ means he can share a joke even with people like Leo Varadkar; he’s reshaping the hierarchy with Pope Francis-style bishops; his accessibility is such that he probably knows the name of every parish priest in Ireland; and, for good measure, he jogs in the Phoenix Park. All that was missing from the Kelly profile was the mood music.
This sycophantic nonsense must embarrass Archbishop Brown. Because he knows that much if not most of the Kelly profile, though unintentionally entertaining, is very wide of the mark. He knows, for example, from the fall-out to his ill-judged 2013 sermon at a Mass in Mount Merrion at which he lectured Irish politicians on their responsibilities, that he’s far from being a poster-boy in Leinster House.
He knows that, while he visits some priests in Ireland who conspicuously share his approach, he refuses to meet the Association of Catholic priests which represents almost a third of the priests on this island; and he has to know that his approach to the appointment of bishops hasn’t the confidence of most Irish priests and probably many bishops.
So, like the famous Reggie Perrin (‘I didn’t get where I am today without . . .’), shrewd man that he is, I have no doubt that he takes profiles like that of Michael Kelly with more than a grain of salt. I’m sure he knows better than most that such unambiguous flattery serves neither him nor his Church. He knows too, wise man that he is, what Pope Francis would think of such nonsense.