Changes in our post-Covid world - Crisis or Catharsis

Source: Messenger Publications

As the world, blinking and uncertain, attempts to navigate a reality upended and possibly irrevocably changed, it is apt that the theme of the Autumn 2020 issue of Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, is that of Transformation. We are witnessing - and indeed experiencing - challenges in the fields of education, historical perspective, politics and religion that task us to confront our personal worldview. Studies explores some of these evolving conundrums.

In this issue, Professor Ray Kinsella ponders the implications for third level education and whether universities can preserve their identity and objectives as traditionally envisaged in a post-COVID era. Dr Anthony White examines the composition and future prospects of the 33rd Dáil and the strategic collaboration that has emerged between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - longtime implacable rivals for historical reasons that have diluted in relevance. Felix Larkin considers four historical figures whose actions have brought about change - albeit, in some cases, to a reality they may have neither chosen nor foreseen.

The need for significant structural change in the Catholic Church is addressed by Dr Séamus Lillis, concerned with the development of parish pastoral councils as a stepping stone to more radical progression and by Dr Phyllis Zagano who writes on the recent Amazon Synod and the response of Pope Francis, Querida Amazonia. Despite her disappointment that insufficient progress was made on the issue of married priests and women obtaining high office within the Church, nonetheless, she notes 'signs of hope for women in Catholicism, both in the Amazon region and worldwide'.

The re-energising of the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA and around the world has raised many questions about who and how a society chooses to honour and commemorate. In Dr William Mathews SJ's essay on the meaning and values that shape our lives, he reflects on the 'inner statue' each of us must sculpt and refine during our lifetime - what he refers to as 'the human meaning making passion'. He highlights the example of Etty Hillesum, who died in Auschwitz. Despite a formerly completely secular life, she discovered God - and sometimes herself - within 'a deep well inside me' during her gruelling last year in the prison camp. Dr Vincent Twomey's article on Joseph Ratzinger echoes this theme of personal evolution when he quotes Ratzinger's description of Christianity as '…that encounter with Christ which radically transforms human behaviour from within'.

Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review Autumn 2020, Transformations is published by Messenger Publications. Priced at €10.

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Tags: Phyllis Zagano, Irish Quarterly Review, Vincent Twomey, Professor Ray Kinsella, Séamus Lillis

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