Fr Gabriel Daly at 88 years of age may not be refereeing rugby matches any more, but his mind remains razor sharp in clearly understanding the problems facing our church.
Addressing the We Are Church group in Milltown Fr Gabriel noted that professional grousers become bores, which damages their vocation to witness!
In a wide ranging and well structured lecture Fr Gabriel argued that traditionalists reduce Jesus to a lawgiver; this destroys the joy of the gospel. They argue that even a pope is bound by church teaching, which is a kind of blackmail. Pope Francis appears unwilling in his efforts to reform the church to go further as it might intimidate the teaching tradition of the church. In particular statements by Pope Pius Xl and Pope John Paul ll appear to imprison Pope Francis. But of course the church has changed many times! For example in 1095 Pope Urban ll launched the first crusade to seize Jerusalem, forgiving all the sins of the crusaders – nothing like this happens today.
Fr Gabriel addressed 3 issues in detail:
- CONTRACEPTION: Pope Paul Vl offended against collegiality by removing this issue from the remit of Vatican ll. He rejected the recommendations of his own group of experts and decided to stay with previous papal pronouncements by issuing Humanae Vitae. This has prompted a sizeable exodus from the church. Modern arguments were rejected.
- WOMEN: This is the most urgent issue facing the church. Women have in structural terms been treated disgracefully. There is no serious theological argument against women priests. Pope John Paul ll was most opposed to women’s ordination, but he did not argue it, he just forcefully affirmed it in his statement which stopped short of being infallible. Pope Francis regards himself as not being free to change on this issue. Many theologians would disagree with Pope Francis on this.
- HOMOSEXUALITY/GAY MARRIAGE: There is fierce opposition in the church on this issue. They base their arguments largely on Casti Connubi (1930) referring to “intrinsically against nature”, “intrinsically viscious” and “homosexual tendencies”. Science has shown that nature is always evolving. One does not choose to be gay, one is born gay. The Irish referendum in favour of Gay marriage came as a severe shock to Rome, referring to it as “a defeat for humanity”. Fr Gabriel has the opposite conclusion.
Fr Gabriel Daly’s new book “The Church: Always in Need of Reform” (Dominican Publications) is certain to be widely read and discussed!