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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 April 2005, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Jesus 'would not enter Vatican'
Fr Cullen said he doubted if he would enter the church now
Fr Cullen said he doubted if he would enter the church now
If Jesus was on earth today he would not take up residence in the Vatican, an Irish priest has said.

Father Shay Cullen said Jesus did not want a church and would have "been out on the dusty roads" helping those in need.

However, he praised the work of Pope John Paul II who had "a tremendous charismatic effect on the church".

Fr Cullen, 63, is a Columban missionary and head of the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines.

When he arrived more than 30 years ago, it was "a sex city" with a huge American military base which fed the sex industry, he said.

Finding difficulties working through the church, he set up an independent organisation separate from the church and state.

"I think that the emphasis now on evangelisation and mission has to be more to reach out to people in the grass-roots and people who are suffering in prison," he said.

"I am not saying the good Pope has not reached out from the Vatican.

What would Jesus do today? I don't think he would take up residence in the Vatican
Father Shay Cullen

"In fact, I think that is what is so remarkable - he did carry this very strong social message and was a great inspiration to us in the Philippines in 1981 when he came here.

"The church as an institution is always a big problem," he told BBC Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

"It is not so much the individual leaders, who are like Pope John Paul - a totally committed and dedicated man.

"We do have problems, of course, in the institutions where there is less of an involvement in the basic social work and dealing with the victims of human rights violations, of AIDS and of child sexual abuse."

Fr Cullen said he doubted if he would enter the church if he was considering a vocation now.

The church could do more to take a stand on behalf of victims of human rights in a global way, he said.

"Jesus never wanted a church. He never talked about a big institution.

"What would Jesus do today? I don't think he would take up residence in the Vatican. He would still be out on the dusty roads and down in the markets and on the radio and the TV, trying to get his message out."


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