Archbishop Martin: Church in Ireland on brink of collapse

THE Catholic Church in Ireland is on the brink of collapse and must be resigned to continuing as a minority culture, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said.

The country’s second most senior cleric said sacraments had become social events rather than celebrations of the Church and it would have to relinquish control of primary schools.

He hit out at his peers, claiming there was a lack of proper thought and debate about how the Church should deal with its present difficulties, but, in an extraordinarily frank admission, he also said he had failed to lead the Church in the changes it needed to make to survive.

Archbishop Martin told a gathering at Cambridge University in England that there would be no ordination to the priesthood in his Dublin Archdiocese this year and that Sunday Mass attendances were down to 2% of the Catholic population in some of his parishes.

He quoted reported comments by Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who is conducting a review here for the Pope, that the Church in Ireland had only five or 10 years at most before it could fall over the brink.

“My belief is that in many ways the brink has already been reached. The Catholic Church in Ireland will inevitably become more a minority culture. The challenge is to ensure it is not an irrelevant minority culture,” he said.

Archbishop Martin said the Church’s crisis predated the child sex abuse scandals because for decades the policy had been merely to “keep the show on the road” without thought as to where it was going, and now that the abuses had damaged it further, only radical change would ensure its survival.

“Despite all my efforts I am failing in my attempts to lead such change. Change management may not be my talent.”

He criticised the Government for being “very slow” to offer alternatives to the Church’s patronage of schools. “I believe that there is need for a national forum to debate the issue.”

Addressing his fellow clerics, he quoted Pope Benedict at the beatification of Cardinal Newman when he described Newman as one of the “keen intellects and prolific pens addressing the pressing subjects of the day”. He said the Church in Ireland today was “very lacking” in similar keen intellects and prolific pens.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

More in this Section

Over 8,000 left on hospital trolleys in April

Five officers in riot gear bring wanted man to court

HSE official pleads guilty to €92k theft

Abuse priest ‘had access to minors in 2000s’


You might also like

Breaking Stories

80-year-old killed in Kilkenny collision

25-year-old hospitalised after being swept to sea by rogue wave

Minister Frances Fitzgerald calls for more women in cabinet

Voters cast ballots in Stormont Assembly election

Lifestyle

The Noel Redding experience is a story that needs to be heard

Birthday boy David Attenborough is still the king of wildlife

Dublin’s delights make for a great day out with the kids

Love, tears and laughter is the story of Rita Coolidge's life

More From The Irish Examiner