I see the Cause of Fr Edward Flanagan, the founder of Boy's Town, is advancing. The Archdiocesan phase in Omaha has been completed and the Postulator has taken possession of the documents to deliver them to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome. Just recently the diocesan phase of the Cause of Fr Patrick Peyton, the Rosary Priest, also ended and his documents are now deposited in Rome. So two ex-pat Irish priests are on their way to beatification.
You all know the story of Fr Flanagan, so I need not go into it. He was a 20th century Don Bosco who deserves to be honoured at the altars of God for his love and dedication to the most vulnerable of our young people. His life and holiness contrasts sharply with what went on here in Ireland as he was setting up Boy's Town. It seems he was not happy with the system of industrial schools in Ireland and apparently on a visit to Cork he read the riot act and told the Irish that the system the government and Church were putting in place was bad. See an interesting article on this here.
As we have come to expect, the Irish were having none of it and condemned Fr Flanagan for his remarks. The then Minister for Justice, Gerard Boland, using Dail privilege, said he was "not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them". Fr Flanagan was castigated by those who thought they knew better, an attitude of the Irish that transcends all ideologies, and all religious beliefs and none. Fr Flanagan responded by saying, quite correctly, that we needed to be shaken out of our smugness and satisfaction. Well, we have indeed been shaken. The dismal state of the Church in Ireland today is of our own making, the fruit of our refusing to heed the warnings God gave us through his faithful servants because we thought we knew better. And you know, I don't think we have learned anything because listening to some in the Church recently they are going along as if it is business as usual.
Of course it would be simplistic to blame the Church alone for all this - this attitude Fr Flanagan was speaking about is an Irish one, not a Catholic one - indeed a good dose of Christian humility will shake it out of us. This is interesting as we hear reports from the HIA enquiry in Northern Ireland which is currently looking at the Brendan Smyth case. It seems, according to what was revealed (and not widely reported down here in the South), that the Gardai were aware of accusations of child abuse made against Brendan Smyth in 1973, long before the Church was, but seemingly did nothing about it. Why didn't they? We shall see where that will go.
Why don't people listen to the modern John the Baptists God sends us?