Irish bishops need to be ‘goalkeepers’ – Pope Francis

Jan 22, 2017 | 3 comments

Pope Francis has told Irish bishops their role should be one of a “goalkeeper”, ready to take shots from any direction, according to a report in the Irish Times on Friday, Jan 20th, 2017.

According to the report, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has said that the pope’s questions are ‘practical, not political’. “He asked how do we begin a dialogue with young people?  … We should meet with people the way they are.”

Irish Catholics who believe the regular practice of open dialogue in the Irish church has been too long delayed – and who are also concerned about the growing tendency for young Irish people to discontinue Mass attendance – are likely to be encouraged by this emphasis.

The focus on dialogue with youth is probably significant also, as the next synod for the world church will be in October 2018, on ‘Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment’.

Click here for the full Irish Times report.


  1. Martin Murray

    Pope Francis’ clearly intended his goalkeeping analogy to emphasise the need for dialogue and engagement with people and society. That is indeed encouraging, as long as the hierarchy don’t misinterpret it as a call to fall back into an even more defensive role. To use another anology, there has been enough circling of the wagons.

    • soconaill

      According to our P.P. here in Coleraine, our own Bishop Donal McKeown has translated the ‘goalkeeper’ analogy to mean that (according to Francis) bishops and clergy should ‘keep things going’ and learn to ‘distribute the ball’ to the outfield players, the laity. That’s quite an encouraging ‘gloss’ – suggesting a balance of ‘defence’ and ‘offence’ and implying also (hopefully) team discussion of strategy and even the encouragement of lay initiative.

      ‘Let’s see!’ as my Mum used to say?

  2. AH+9

    Thank you for letting us know our Fr. Donal is managing the club with care for the players but as ever with inspirational words for the youth whose choices for committment are the future of the whole organisation, always in our prayers


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