Rejoice — But Be Realistic!
Archbishop Martin of Dublin, in a recent reflection, took as his leitmotif John XXIII’s opening address at the Second Vatican Council: “Gaudet mater ecclesia.” Like most of Martin’s talks it is nuanced and many-sided. Here is an excerpt:
Our rejoicing about the Irish Church must be kept within the limits of realism and realistic analysis. The Church needs more than the analysis of spin doctors and public relations gurus. It is no use rejoicing at every fleeting sign of change or statistic. Our analysis must go straight to the point. The real roots of the religious crisis in Ireland are deep and of a different character than many would wish to admit. They are linked with a crisis of faith, among individuals and within Irish society.
That crisis of faith then manifests itself in a crisis about the Church as an institution within a broader context of a change in the cultural infrastructure which had traditionally sustained the faith of people but which has become much more fragile over the years. Ireland is a highly secularised society and secularisation should not leave us unmoved.
I am not talking about crusading, but we must admit that unfortunately the Church in Ireland was slow and is slow in recognising the fragility of the infrastructure of faith and in many ways continues to think that the challenges of tomorrow can be addressed with the pastoral methods of yesterday. For their part many well-intentioned outsiders fail to understand the particular characteristics – both historical and contemporary – of the Irish Church and they fail to understand the depths of the current crisis.
The challenge of faith in Ireland can only be addressed by radical efforts of new evangelization. That new evangelization must however have its own Irish characteristics. The renewal of the Irish Church must be led from within the Irish Church. It must begin immediately. There is little time to waste.
The rest is here.