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

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Trump defends monuments to pro-slavery Confederacy

Shane Ross: No funding until OCI reforms

16 Roses book their place in live TV final

Rio report reveals ‘rotten OCI culture’, says Sports Minister


Breaking Stories

Swimming ban in place at Dublin beach

Gardaí renew appeal for information following Ballymun shooting

Midlands family collect €370k Lotto win after playing in 'one of the luckiest Lotto shops in the country'

RNLI rescue three people from 50 foot vessel off coast of Cork

Lifestyle

Digital distraction: Are smartphones dumbing down students?

Against the odds: Life after ectopic pregnancy

Celebrity Masterchef Yvonne Connolly on cooking up a storm with leftovers

Can experiencing awe really make us better people?

More From The Irish Examiner