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The Brendan O'Connor Show on Aute Radio One with all care pharmacy discover a team that's always here to support you at all care taking care of communities across Ireland.


Let's move on and let's take Sunday service. You know what I think we actually need right now? I think we need a priest and luckily we have one on hand. Father John McDonald, good afternoon.


Good afternoon, Brendan. No pressure to tell you what you got.


Now, listen, you've done a reality show where you were paired up with a drag queen, funnily enough. We'll talk about that in a while. But listen, did the pandemic, as they say, is pressing fast forward on history for a lot of things? And and I know you feel the church is going to is going to change. Now to just before we come to that. Did you hear Rory O'Neill there?


Yeah, I didn't hear at all, but I heard bits of it, but you get the gist of what he's saying, is that something you think is is a big issue going on out there with people? Despair, really?


Yes, I think Rory articulated that brilliantly, as he always does. And I think that the big thing, unfortunately, that's coming is a tsunami of mental health. I suppose I'm interested in spiritual health. I think people are. And I think they have their teeth and hung on tight in a sense, to get through it. But I think when we get through it, as we well, I think that's when we'll experience just how awful it has been for a lot of people.


Yeah. Yeah.


So it's it's it's that image that's used sometimes in general that Wylie Coyote has run off the edge of the cliff and he's standing there in midair, but he's going to fall at some stage.


Listen, I spiritual health. It is is is an interesting thing because I suppose mental health, when we talk about mental health, what we mean really is kind of spiritual health in lots of cases, isn't it?


In terms of has the church been a good help to people in all of this, do you think?


Yeah, I think they've tried, Brandon, that, you know, I mean, for me, I was amazed at how the online thing took off. And we developed a programme here called The Pandemic Pilgrimage. And I'm amazed, you know, you'd have the regular people who you would see in church. But it has reached a whole range of people, some of them who have been out of work on at home. And, you know, I was joking there.


There's a there's a piece in the sun world about this today. But I was telling the world that the little anecdote where this lady was telling me that her son, who's out of work and he's in his 40s and he said, you're one morning. Oh, please don't tell me or listen to that priest again. She said, you sit down here and you might learn something. And he's become one of my regular texters. You know, he turns and now he doesn't always text me to say he agrees with what he said.


Sometimes he said you were talking baloney this morning. I wouldn't agree with half of it. But he has engaged. So the online thing, Brandon has taken off. Amazingly so.


So in a way, in the way that so many businesses have pivoted online now, do you think in a sense, is there something in the church pivoting online and maybe going to meet the people where they are rather than having these big, austere buildings where the people come and listen to the priest?


Well, definitely, Brendan. I mean, you know, and I hear I heard your panel earlier and, you know, I get this thing people have this phrase about returning to normal. And so when I do want to return at all, I mean, I'm resisting. You know, I want to get out of the pandemic. I'm not suggesting for a moment that that it's good, but it has provided us with an opportunity and just what you've said.


Now, look, people will say, particularly priests and in church, people would say, oh, it's no substitute for the real thing of gathering and particularly the idea of receiving Holy Communion. I get all that. But for me, moving forward, Brandon, the only thing that will remain part of some, you know, maybe a day, a week or something, because there are people who have said to me, father would no harm to you if you were open in the morning.


We're not coming back, you know, because there are people there who just are nervous. And the only thing about it is, Brandon, we've developed this whole thing of the domestic church or what I call mass at the kitchen table. That really suits lots of people. Nobody can tell us about that. Well, like, for example, I've started this news and want to bore you or the listeners who have said I'm doing a sort of this invasion of a thing called the Roncalli community, which is basically a dream I have had about renewal and reform of the church.


But we have a programme in place now and I hope to move into new premises. Well, it's an old convent that belong to the Holy See Sisters and sell these two big houses I'm living in here and a place here. Brandon, if you saw it, it's like Downton Abbey without the staff I made add rattling around on your own there.


Yes, but it's huge, you know, one. And there is seriously I mean, I joke about it and it's a lovely house to be in and the lockdown, but you couldn't justify it. You know, you can't. And one of my first experiences here in Southbridge was a senior guard and Woolston and I never forget it. And she said to me, you know, Father, you gave a great sermon on homelessness on Sunday. And I was very inspired.


But she says it sounds a bit hollow living where you are living. And she was spot on, you know, one hundred percent. So anyway, just say to you about the online saying for you getting on and on and on, are you getting rid of those?


Well, I'm hoping and praying I haven't met the new archbishop yet, so there's news, you probably know we have a new leader in the Dharma trial and I'm excited about that. The plan with the previous administration was, yeah, we sell this big house and it's a beautiful house and another house beside us, which is not a small house either. But it's more modern and that we have bought our we're in the process of finalising and buying the Holy Faith Convent, which I hope to move into and develop a community of women and man lay religious and and clerical and try and do something new.


And the church around the renewal and reform of the church.


OK, so hang on a minute. Are you setting up or is this a kind of a sect within the church?


Brandon, thanks. Yeah. To break away Greg. Yeah. Yeah. Joe Lucerna.


No, no, no, no, no, no. Definitely not. No, it's not. But it's it's a way of trying to do church differently. Let me give you this example. In the present model, which is very hierarchical, the priest is at the top of the table, in my view of this. I want to move to a place where the priest could be at the table, but he won't be at the top at the top of the table, hopefully will be a lay woman committed like a woman who will lead, but not a token woman, obviously.


But I believe the future of the church lay led because we're not going to have the priests. We don't have them. And not only will it be late, but I hope will be a woman led.


And Joe, is this allowed? Are are the church on board with this?


Yeah. Well, I'm asking you awkward questions. Er, yes, exactly.


No, not at all. No. I mean, I'm happy to talk with Dermot Martin. Give me great support with it now. I think we moved very slowly and it wasn't his fault that a pandemic hit and so on. I don't want to pre-empt what the new archbishop will say, but I would believe he'll be, in broad terms, supportive to give me a chance. But in actual fact, Brendan, you know, it's done out of love for the church.


I mean, I have that peculiar relationship with the church and a great ambivalence because I see it as a church that is guilty of such abuse of dysfunctionality and dreadful stuff. And yet it's the church I continue to love. You know, sometimes when people hear me, they say, God, if you feel that bad about it, get out like I'm not going anywhere, you know? Yeah. I'm like to go back to that boring detail.


No would delay people live there with clerics in in community? Yes.


Yeah, I have I have had two experiences of something a little bit similar. One was in the mosque, the retreat centre and Sorge. And then I visited Taizé in the south of France years ago. So this is not totally unique. But the idea, Brandon, would be we'd have a core group of four or five and then a sort of another group of four or five. They'd be separate members. If you were a separate member, Brandon, you wouldn't live there.


But you join us every day from your own home are three or four days a week for key exercises. Like, for example, the two pivotal moments are half six. This morning I celebrated the dawn mass and they go to high five. No one's Easter Sunday comes. So that's the kick off point in the week, the risen Jesus. The other key point is three o'clock on a Friday afternoon gather round the cross. And one of the things we do gather round the cross, by the way, is we try and bring atonement for the sins of the church.


So people are very familiar with this and our own sins and all that. But I'm interested also in the institutional sense, you know, such as clericalism, homophobia, all that type of damage that we continue to do.


OK, are you are you on your own with this or is this a movement that's going on around the world? Ah, sorry. No, if I'm asking stupid questions, but yeah.


Oh no, no, no, no, no. It's not all around the world. This is my idea. This is a vision I had again just cut me off. I'm bored and you're not wrong. I wrote a book 2017 Why the Irish Church Deserves to Die. In the last few pages of it, I sort of hint that this idea of some prophetic sort of community. I'm Brendan. Look, people some people at him say, oh, God, he's going to change the world.


Not at all. This might be a small little light, small little light in the Irish church that is signalling we have attained many aims of things and it going to him the things we have heard people wholesale take no get off the floor and get down on our knees, say sorry and try and begin again. I'm what I'm trying to do. It's a small little light. It's not going to revolutionise the Irish church or anything like it. But it's my idea.


I'm inspired. One of my big figures, one of my big heroes, along with people like Neil Young and Ronnie Reagan and others, is John the Twenty Third Roncalli Roncalli. Like myself, he was a big fat fella, hardly able to get around. They made him pope and they said he won't last a crack, put them in their kartika. He revolutionised it and he he brought us in Second Vatican Council. And it's funny. Brendan, today, this is the day when Father Enda McDonagh is being buried.


He was the professor of moral theology and business, and ENDA was one of those prophetic voices that really believed and lived in Vatican two. But with very few of them, I could hardly name another one and end the day the other day at 90 years of age. But one of the things he said, John Bowman had a lovely clip this morning, and I was listening to it on Bowman's clip this morning and said a very interesting thing, just a simple line.


He said there is no future for the church that doesn't take risks. And if I had any message, if I could, I could get a message to the bishops, I'd say, please, please take risks for the people of faith in this country that need you to take risks and put it rather bluntly, for the love of Jesus, take risks.


Yeah, no, you know what I think people will think is that you could come across a priest like you and you actually come across a lot of priests who are men of what you might describe as men of joy and men who are who are flesh and blood. Men and men were full of life and everything.


And then you look at the church on the bigger scale and petrolist maybe and a bit not so full of life. Would that be fair, Brendan?


Look, it's more than fair. Look what I agree with you. You're 100 percent correct. I know guys and my fellow priest and myself, I would like to think that I have some sense of joy. But in actual fact, when you get us collectively, we can be a joyless lot, you know, honest to God, like it's where it all ended. And Good Friday. Some days he got up. There was a resurrection, you know that, Nolan.


And that's I'm not interested in Brendan because during the pandemic, I did a couple of little experiments. I won't bore you with the detail. But just to say, if they were called experiments and hope, you know what I discovered Brantford, that hope, which I would have thought was a very, very attractive commodity. It wasn't that popular. Wasn't that popular at all in what sense? I found myself in groups, you know, different groups of people and mostly mostly by the nature of my working life, mostly people of faith are church people or whatever.


And what struck me was this incredible desire to outdo each other with BOTUS. So to one person might say, did you hear what happened the other day? Oh, yeah, God, he was only thirty three died within a few days. Oh, I can tell you better than that. I was talking to a nurse and cheap that I know that was bad news. Of course that was bad news in the pandemic. Horrific, really sad news.


But on a few occasions I threw in what I call a little sprechen, like a little tadpole of hope. Yeah. My God, Brendan, I can tell you it ranged from for goodness sake, father, come on. That's more holy baloney. And then they turned the few times at me and said, oh, typical you you're the eternal optimist. Come off at face the real world to be live and pie in the sky when you die.


I discovered hope. Hope was not that popular.


You see, I see a lot of people would say, Jorda, it was it was a combination of rain. Whatever we have in our genes as Irish people, kind of a certain melancholy or whatever. And when that measure nasty or judgemental, angry church, that that's what kind of might have murdered people's capacity for hope.


Oh, but but, Brenda, look, I completely I stand with you and not but you see, the sad thing about it is that experience at which which you put your finger on and it's an authentic your name in a legitimate and authentic experience. So many people are in so many different ways. But the sad thing about that is when you get back beyond what you get beyond the institution, when you get beyond what we did to it, we actually the good news remains like the person of Jesus of Nazareth, we have done terrible thing.


We are obscure. You know, it's funny how I think this is a very sad thing. In a way, I cange we preach about everything, including sexual morality. If we shut up more about sex and talk more about Jesus and talk more about the charismatic figure that we have in Jesus, that brings the joy.


Listen, Joel, I'm supposed to talk to you. You're here to talk about something else.


And I'm conscious that we didn't expect to go to one question before we finish that, and then we'll get on to what we're meant to be talking about.


So do you do you see the future of the church then as a kind of a smaller but more committed kind of church? Is that what you think, that this massive worldwide institution will shrink down a bit to something more authentic? Maybe?


Yeah, I think worldwide it's different brand. But if we talk about Irish Church, yes, I think the Irish church as an institution is crumbling in front. And I think that what will emerge, I'm hopeful what will emerge is a smaller, leaner, but definitely more potent and more faithful and hopefully coming back to some of the stuff you have said, more inspiring and more joyful.


OK, listen, that was great, but it's Sunday service.


Now, the reason you're actually here, you're taking part in a new show on Virgin Media this week called Eating with the Enemy. Tell me about the show.


Well, I got the phone call. I said I like the title. Very interesting. When they had not a notion who I was meeting. And the whole idea is to put two people together common from what they feel were, if you like, diametrically opposed places. But anyway, I ended up I was the one at the table. The other person was coming down the little ramp way into the restaurant. And all I could see was this blue dress, a very striking blue dress and a rather curvaceous figure.


If you're allowed to say that it's a too late now anyway. I've said it curvaceous figure, this lovely blonde hair. OK, OK, stop, stop, stop, stop.


Let's take a break and we'll meet the enemy after the break.


Text five one five five one. Brendan O'Connor on TV. Radio one.