A la Carte Catholicism has to be built on says Cork's Bishop-elect

A la Carte Catholicism has to be built on says Cork's Bishop-elect
Fr Fintan Galvin. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Bishop-elect in the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Fr Fintan Gavin, has addressed concerns about a la carte Catholicism by stressing that you have to build on where people are at with their faith with the hope of opening their minds to God.

Speaking prior to his ordination tomorrow, Fr Gavin emphasised that he believes in keeping the doors of the Catholic church open to everyone.

“If you were to have a very high bar and lose people altogether that is not what the church is about either. It is about trying to encourage people to a level of faith that they can be part of it and build on that rather than to exclude people.

"If you do turn people away, even if you don't do it physically, if you are sending out a message you can become very exclusive and then you lose people. I do believe you should keep doors open.”

The 53-year-old Dublin native, who was ordained a priest in 1991, has previously met people who wanted to leave the church post-Murphy and Ryan Reports.

“At one stage I was meeting four to six people a day (as part of my role) who were leaving. So that was heavy. But what I learned was that some of the people who were leaving ....there was a sincerity.

"They were on a journey. They wanted the truth and they weren't finding it because of the contradictions they saw.

"Some of those people have come back to the Church. So we have to engage in a real way.

If you just shut down and say "okay you are not part of it" then I think you lose people. People are on a journey and people can deepen their faith in understanding. We have to live with those tensions because that is part of real life.

Cork and Ross has just 80 priests in active ministry across the diocese with Bishop-elect Gavin admitting that this poses challenges.

He is hugely grateful for the ever-increasing efforts of the lay population in parishes throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Fr Gavin said that he was conscious of the need for the church to reach out and listen to people.

“We have to understand people. Our message is a message that is very clear and unambiguous. It is a message of inclusion.

"I am not there to change the church teaching. For the church, marriage is between a man and a woman. But I believe we have to respect everybody. We have to respect people whatever your sexual orientation is and how you want to celebrate that.”

Fr Gavin will be ordained by current Bishop of the Diocese Dr John Buckley tomorrow. Bishop Buckley has been at the helm for 21 years.

Bishop John Buckley
Bishop John Buckley

Fr Gavin has chosen to have Bishop Buckley ordain him and will use the pastoral staff which was formerly the property of the previous Bishop of the diocese Dr Michael Murphy.

The Bishop-elect is particularly pleased that the ordination will be live-streamed.

A 25ft screen is also being installed in the cathedral in Skibbereen to allow parishioners there to be part of the ceremony.

Fr Gavin says he has been greatly encouraged by all the notes of encouragement he has received from priests and parishioners. He will continue to build on all the positive aspects of the diocese.

“There are so many good things happening. I have always tried to give 110% and that is where I am with this at the moment.

"I am ready to hit the ground running and taking on the mandate of renewal.”

Bishop Buckley has long been renowned for his interest and prowess in all sports particularly road bowling.

Fr Gavin says he is also interested in sports but will have to get firmly behind Cork now that he has been adopted in Leeside.

“I have a background in sport. Up to now I have been shouting for Dublin. But now I will be shouting for Cork. My real challenge will be when Cork and Dublin are together!”

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