Laity Key to Irish Church's Renewal, Dublin Archbishop Says at Fordham
April 25, 2013
Renewal of the Catholic Church in a "post-Catholic" Ireland depends on a homegrown effort by the laity to overcome clericalism and witness the Christian message in a secular society, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told a New York audience. Once considered "one of the world's most deeply and stably Catholic countries," Ireland, like other parts of Europe, can now be classified as post-Catholic because of sociological changes and lingering fallout from the child sexual abuse scandals that swept the country in recent years, Archbishop Martin said April 24 in a speech at Fordham University. "You can only define post-Catholic in terms of the Catholicism that has been displaced," he said. The prelate described the Catholic Church in Ireland as being trapped in an illusory self-image when he became the archbishop of Dublin in 2004, but that the demographic majority the church enjoyed hid "many structural weaknesses" and that the church had become insensitive to them. "The church leadership was out of touch with the religious sentiment of the people," he said. "The Catholic Church in Ireland had for far too long felt that it was safely ensconced on a 'Catholic country.' The church had become conformist and controlling, not just of its faithful, but of society in general. ... Anyone who might have thought that 'Catholic Ireland' was anything like a perfect society must now be very disillusioned," Archbishop Martin said.