With what he described as "devastating criticism" of The Church 2000, Mgr. Daniel Shanahan, the distinguished canon lawyer, launched the South-East Essex Newman circle on a work-study project of the document at Southend on Friday. The resultant views are to he submitted to the Bishops' Conference.
On the content matter of the report he said that there was no such thing as the Universal Church. "It doesn't really exist. For the ordinary person the
Church is the local one. Even in
Rome it is a very local church. You can't even nail it down to the Church in England and Wales, because it's different from the Church in Scotland and Ireland.
"Yon 'have to look at the cellular structure, the way a doctor isolates cells under the microscope. You can only nail it down at local level."
In conjunction with the report Mgr. Shanahan com
pared the review in The Times
by Clifford Longley of Fr. Michael Winter's recent book "Mission or Maintenance." The tragedy of the whole report was that there was one page — "one page!" on parishes. Fr. Winter had been expected to do this section when he was a member of the working party but he had opted out and written his own book.
"Already many of Fr. Winter's criticisms are out of date," said Mgr. Shanahan. "It certainly isn't true about bishops leading protected lives remote from ordinary folk.
Look at Bishop Casey — he is always on the trot. The man will kill himself in five years the way he gets out and meets people." Religious had lost a sense of direction. "Look at the Fran ciscans, starting off with the ideal of poverty. They now just happen to have the biggest and richest 'church in the diocese. The Passionias' idea was to preach to the countryside, so they went to Highgate, is that country any more? "The Jesuits used to have their schools; now it's 'get out to the missions'." But they were all pulling themselves together, the revolution was going on, so in that sense the document was out of date.
The new methods of training priests had happened. "The
revolution has certainly reached there: girls at Maynooth, Ushaw College part of Durham University, long hair and go to Mass if you feel like it! In my day it was: 'There's the bell and if you weren't there sharp you were in trouble'."