Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin has established a Task Force on a Church for the Dublin of Tomorrow, under the title Building Hope.
During his homily for the Chrism Mass the Archbishop declared:
‘It is the Church as a whole that is ‘ministerial’ and all its members share in that responsibility. Parish by parish we need to encourage the active incorporation of all the baptised in the life and responsibilities of the Church.
“Every member of the Church, starting with the young, will participate in the synodal practice that henceforth will be part of the life of the Church. Clergy must try to walk together with women and men with ever greater enthusiasm and without thinking that we already have the best answer or all the answers.
“I want the Task Force to stimulate reflection and creative thinking across the whole community, in parishes and in organisations committed to the well-being of the people, to guide a process of dialogue which will continue as we develop and implement our plans for the future.
“I have asked the Task Force to complete its work by the end of the Summer.”
Click here for Archbishop Mullan’s complete Chrism Homily of Holy Thursday 2021.
I wish to express my grave concern about the current crisis in and direction of the Irish Catholic Church.
It is very clear that it has gradually become more irrelevant to most Irish Catholics over recent decades. We have a major decline in sexual morality, widespread cohabitation, disregard for the Sabbath, a collapse in mass attendance and confession, public support for abortion, homosexual lifestyles and the prospect of Euthanasia.
Whilst many factors have contributed to this crisis, I believe two of them were: scandals involving members of the Hierarchy, sexual abuse by clergy and the disgraceful cover ups which followed. Unsurprisingly, these events caused much anger and a loss of respect among the faithful. Unfortunately the Church’s response to reversing this decline has been to dilute the standards required of those aspiring to live a good Christian life by appealing to the lowest possible common denominator. The result now is that most people have become lost in their spiritual lives and are no longer clear on what the Church stands for. For example, as a minimum, surely you would expect the Church to speak out against the widespread sexual immorality in our society. By their silence, many particularly younger people, may genuinely not understand that such behaviour is gravely sinful. Also, sanctifying grace from the sacraments, the value of fasting and the existence of hell are rarely mentioned. Surely such silence is an abrogation of responsibility because it is endangering the salvation of souls. In fairness, other Christian denominations also appear to be affected in this way.
It is now obvious that the Church’s response has not worked and instead they have lost respect from both committed Catholics and those who have walked away. It follows therefore that the Church now needs to renew itself before it is too late. The Church needs to present it’s teaching in an undiluted, more confident but humble way. This may alienate a lot of people but I believe that a slimmed down version of a more aunthentic church being unapologetic about it’s teaching, is the only way forward now. The hierarchy have a major role in this regard. The way the Catholic Faith is taught in schools is also critical
Where exactly, Justin, do you see ‘dilution of standards’ for Christian behaviour in the teachings of Catholic church leaders? Can you give us some specific examples?
And, given what you call the ‘scandals involving members of the Hierarchy, sexual abuse by clergy and the disgraceful cover ups which followed’ why do you think anyone would pay much attention if Catholic bishops DID speak more often, and more emphatically, on matters such as ‘cohabitation’? Doesn’t the teaching on the mote and the beam become relevant here, and won’t that very teaching come to the mind of any 21st century bishop contemplating one of those 1950s pastoral letters re the sixth commandment and ‘cohabitation’
Do we not learn far more deeply from exemplary behaviour than from verbal moralisation? Personally I learned respect for the sixth commandment from my parents, not from bishops.
And if people lose a sense of eternal values, and come to disbelieve in their own eternal lives, is it not inevitable that sexuality will come to assume a disproportionate role? It is there, surely, that ongoing church scandals do most damage – by raising questions as to the depth of belief and spirituality that ordained men themselves have necessarily reached?
Jesus did indeed warn against breaches of the sixth commandment – but did his most emphatic warnings not concern lack of love and charity (Matthew Chs 5 & 8)?
My guess is that it is for all of these reasons that Pope Francis has stressed the moral challenge of love for the poor, of mercy and of solidarity with the marginalised, rather than the role of judgemental moralism, as a means of drawing people back to the Gospel.
Aidan Hart does the same in his article ‘First Comes the Experience of God’s Unconditional Love’.
Far from seeing this as any dilution of standards I see it as a call for all believers to put love before judgement, as Jesus himself also did – warning us emphatically not to judge. (Matt 7: 1-5)
The Dublin archdiocese task force is now asking interested people to submit their contributions ( views/suggestions )online until 18th July. Click here to get to the Dublin response form.