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Welcome prophet for the poor

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“Pope Francis is a welcome prophet, but prophets are often rejected, or even worse accommodated and assimilated.” The words of Tony O’Riordain, Jesuit and  PP in Moyross, Limerick, which he says is one of the poorest and most neglected communities in Ireland. He pulls no punches in his reflection on the Pope’s first year in office.

Prophet for the  poor

Tony O’Riordain SJ

Pope Francis is a welcome prophet, but prophets are often rejected, or even worse accommodated and assimilated. As A Jesuit in one of the poorest and most neglected communities in Ireland I am heartened by the words and actions of Pope Francis that demonstrate that the poor and the reality of their lives are close to his heart and should be close to the heart of the Church. His low key approach to his position and his fondness for people is hard not to be touched by.

However the reality of the lives of people who live on the margins are far from the real concern of the institutional church. The Irish church remains a large influential organisation, but the real life concerns of the poor do not pulsate through its veins. Such concerns are clogged by middle class concerns ( ‘are we, now the new poor anyway’?) and a middle class perspective that finds several mental and emotional mechanisms to prevent serious political and social action to eliminate the evils done by poverty in its absolute and relative forms. Or as in the case of my parish – physical barriers  -much of my parish is surrounded by a wall cutting the people off from other catholic communities on the other side of the wall…

Pope Francis may have brought the possibility of a bounce, it remains to be seen if the Irish Church has the passion to catch this bouncing ball.

If past experience if anything to go by, in relation to the structures that cause poverty and the problems caused by poverty that inflict misery on thousands in Ireland then the Church as an institution is likely to kick the ball to touch.. easing its conscious by lauding the efforts of the few who will hear the call echoed by Pope Francis to go to the outskirts, while then getting on with a church that is happy to have the dogs lick the sores of Lazarus.