Catholic World News

Irish Church faces unprecedented crisis: Archbishop of Dublin

December 14, 2011

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has warned that the Chuch in Ireland’s capital city is facing “the most challenging years that the diocese has had to face since Catholic Emancipation.”

Responding to a report that showed a steep drop in Mass attendance in recent years, Archbishop Martin predicted “enormous” changes for Dublin’s Catholics. The report found that only 14% of Dublin’s Catholics attend Mass on a given Sunday. Contributions to the Church have also plummeted, and with the clergy population aging rapidly, a shortage of priests looms in the near future.

The archbishop said that Irish Catholicism is “undergoing a far-reaching transformation.” After decades of dominance in the nation’s culture, the faith has lost its hold on the public, and “the reality of God is slowly being eclipsed and men and women live their lives as if God does not exist.” The Church now faces an “uncharted” future, Archbishop Martin said.

While calling for a renewed commitment among the faithful, the archbishop said that those who have abandoned the faith should be honest enough to acknowledge that. Commenting on families that come to church only for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms, he suggested that they should be consistent enough to leave the Church. Archbishop Martin said: “It requires maturity on those people who want their children to become members of the church community and maturity on those people who say 'I don't believe in God and I really shouldn't be hanging on to the vestiges of faith when I don't really believe in it.’”


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  • Posted by: - Dec. 15, 2011 12:02 PM ET USA

    I suggest the Archbishop ask his priests to have the maturity preach the Catholic faith, not secular humanism, or else to leave the Church rather than pretend they are Catholic and destroy the faith of the people in their care. It's not all the lapsed, cultural Catholic's fault. Decades of pastoral neglect meant that they were never told what Catholicism really was.

  • Posted by: gop - Dec. 14, 2011 7:52 PM ET USA

    Something seems to be wrong here. A bishop should encourage lapsed Catholics to be more fervent in their faith not to drive them away. Even if they just come for special occasions that may yet be better than not to come at all. At least, there remains a glimmer of hope from their attendance, maybe it is the thread that God can use to deliver grace to them and bring them back to the fold at the end of their lives.