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Pope Francis’ ‘quiet revolution’

“Comprehensive, coherent, and challenging ” is how Dr Dermot Lane described The Quiet Revolution, a book on the papacy of Pope Francis by Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, published by Messenger Publications. According to the Irish Jesuit theologian, “Pope Francis has an idea of ‘Church’ which if pushed through and implemented will reverse 1,000 years of the way in which the church as been structured.” (Listen to his podcast interview above with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications).

Launching the book in Avila Carmelite Spirituality Centre on Wednesday 11 July, 2018, Dermot Lane, also a theologain, described it as “constructively critical of the ecclesial status quo,” adding, “And yet, chapter by chapter, it is full of hope for the future.”

He went on to note that the mantra running through Gerry’s book concerns the Pope’s vision a new, synodal and collaborative Church.  We will only succeed in creating this type of Church, according to Dermot Lane, “to the extent that it is grounded in the primacy of our encounter with the risen Christ and the recovery within that encounter of the primacy of mission.”  And he added, “Gerry O’Hanlon acknowledges that this encounter with Christ will not be easy for some, and therefore he suggests different ways in which this encounter with Christ might be facilitated.”

Dermot Lane followed this cue and  drew special attention to the praxis of the historical Jesus given in the Gospels.

“This praxis of Jesus is one of reform, the prophetic reform in the first instance of Judaism at that time. The Jesus of the Gospels is also a social reformer, missioned to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and liberty to the oppressed,” he said, adding, “The social praxis of Jesus is also about initiating a new, inclusive table fellowship in which all are welcome. It was this new table fellowship that created in part the context to the Last Supper,” and he concluded therefore that these social praxises of Jesus, and others such as the importance of justice and the work of reconciliation, “have a resonance with the challenges now facing the Church in Ireland today at this time.”

One of those challenges is the treatment of women in the Church,and the sense of exclusion and alienation experienced by many women. Again Dermot Lane returned to the Gospels, noting the presence of women in the mission and ministry of Jesus. “Women are present and visible throughout the life of Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, at Calvary, and in the resurrection narratives, especially in terms of Mary Magdalen and the other Marys,” he said. “Further we know that women are prominent in the early Pauline churches, especially in Romans 16 and other Pauline letters. This historical data must surely inform contemporary discussions about the role of women in the life of the Church in the 21st century.”

He concluded by warmly congratulating Gerry on writing “this original text with its sense of hope, present throughout the book, and consistent with another volume edited by Gerry entitled A Dialogue of Hope.