(CNS) Dublin archbishop says Catholics not passing on faith to young people

Irish society is not just suffering from the sex abuse scandal but from a failure to pass on the faith to the younger generation, said the archbishop of Dublin.

“We have to completely, radically change the way we pass on the faith,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told Catholic News Service May 16. “Our parishes are not places where evangelization and catechesis are taking place.”

The archbishop traveled to Washington to present the Order of Malta Inaugural Lecture, “Faith and Service: the Unbreakable Bond.” During his speech and in remarks to CNS beforehand, he spoke of the declining practice of the faith in Dublin — 18 percent of Catholics regularly attend Sunday Mass — and of the need to give young people responsibility in the parish to reinvigorate them.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults, Youth Ministry

7 comments on “(CNS) Dublin archbishop says Catholics not passing on faith to young people

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    [blockquote]Irish society is not just suffering from the sex abuse scandal[/blockquote]
    No, but from what I read, it is the major reason for the falling off of attendance and the opprobrium with which the Catholic Church is held in Ireland, much as in many other countries in Europe where the shocking level of abuse has come out and the trauma of the level of church betrayal set in. If the Catholic Church sets about dealing with the issues it may stabilise its situation in a generation or so. It is not a problem of catechisis [although no doubt that is important] but of credibility.

    Parents will not allow their young people to be “given responsibility” in the parishes unless they are convinced that they are safe, and acknowledging and dealing with the problem as their English Catholic cousins have done, will be a prerequisite for this. But like the Irish troubles, it has taken a generation of peace before something like the Queen’s visit to Ireland taking place at the moment to become possible; so I suspect it will take at least a generation of sustained work for the Catholic Church to recover some credibility with the Irish. In Ireland as in other European countries where the Catholic Church used to be at their heart, the brand has a problem.

  2. Paula Loughlin says:

    I agree Pageantmaster.

    I must admit though I do wonder why these same parents are so trusting of other institutions which have higher rates of abuse problems. In the U.S. the Department of Education some years back issued a report on sexual abuse and misconduct by teachers and others in the public school systems. The rates were much higher than the reported rates for clergy abuse. There was no outrage from the MSM. There was no call for accused teachers to be named publicly. There was no demand for a government investigation. There was no speculation about the failure of parents to keep their children in public schools because of the lack of trust in teachers.

    Abuse is wrong and those guilty should face whatever civil penalties apply. Yet it seems odd to me that we never here of abuse except what happened in the Catholic church. I would not be surprised that the attention is kept on the Church because the goal is not so much the lamenting of abuse but to delegitimize the CHurch’s voice in opposition to the agenda of liberal progressives. Goals such as gay rights, unrestricted abortion rights, euthanasia and the silencing of all orthodox Christianity in the public square.

  3. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #2 You may be right Paula.

    I am just speculating here, but I suspect the reason why churches are judged by a higher standard than say public school teachers, is firstly that Christians are always under the spotlight to see if our actions come up to our words. Any one who sets themselves up as living to a higher standard, can expect little sympathy when they fall short of it. We are ambassadors for Christ, as the NT puts it. Secondly, particularly in Ireland, priests have been particularly trusted. I think it has come as a particular shock that a priest could harm a child. Parents have given the church complete trust, and while initially many people dismissed the reports coming out and what the children were saying, when the penny finally dropped after the Irish government reports were issued the criticism has been merciless. I think the only way forward is to own up to what has happened, and understanding that, and that children can never be entirely safe, resolve to do ones best to ensure that such situations do not arise. For example, in the UK all persons working with children are vetted, churches appoint a person to ensure child safety measures are put in place and actions written down, and finally and perhaps most basically, situations where children are left alone with even a trusted adult kept to a minimum.

    I think parents and the general public and the courts know that no system is foolproof, but if say a church has taken all prudent measures it can and put in place measures for the safety of children and vulnerable people on church property and in church activities, most people will accept that, even if from time to time incidents still occur outside church or rules are circumvented.

    I think from my knowledge both the CofE and now the Catholic Church in England and Wales has done a lot, what worries me about the continuing reports and excuses [such as “Woodstock”] is that I am not really convinced that elsewhere the lessons have really been understood and learned from. Are the procedures in place really to ensure that ‘problem priests’ cannot just be sent off elsewhere? I don’t know. We had an instance in Manchester of a priest being sent off to the States where for some years he evaded questions from British Police while still being paid by the Catholic church. This stuff just has to stop. Hopefully the Pope’s recent call for reports from churches on the measures being put in place will have some effect but blaming “Woodstock” just suggests that denial continues, rather than looking at the role and relationship between vulnerable people and priests. Unfortunately some of the old contact will have to go and perhaps a bit of distance put in, but safety and accountability really has to come first.

  4. Catholic Mom says:

    The Irish have remained for hundreds of years and in spite of persecution and every inducement to be otherwise, faithful sons and daughters of the Church. Irish patriotism and Irish Catholicism have been almost twin sides of the same coin. But the Church betrayed the trust of the Irish — not only with respect to the abuse scandal but in regards to the treatment of children in orphanages and other institutions. Whether the Church will ever regain the status it had in Ireland is an open question. If it does, it will only be the result of decades or more of rebuilding trust.

  5. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    when will the penny drop that the liturgy is the most powerful tool in evangelisation and that weak, second rate seventies folk masses have devastated the church

  6. Catholic Mom says:

    I disagree. I don’t believe that 99.9% of Catholics go to mass to “see the show.” They go because it’s ingrained in them as part of their view of how you’re supposed to live your life. You go to work. You raise your kids. You go to mass. It would be like saying “people don’t go to family Christmas gatherings anymore because many of the decorations are now “fake” and because butterball turkeys taste like straw compared to real old-fashioned turkeys.” May be true but people don’t go to family Christmas gatherings primarily for the quality of the decorations or the food. Also, maybe I don’t have enough to compare to, but my experience in going to church is not “weak 2nd rate 70’s folk masses.” If you mean that some masses have people playing guitars rather than organs and the songs are a lot more tuneful than some of the old Victorian hymns (sung to a slow, monotonous ta DA ta DA ta DA rhythm) I’m not sure that’s a turn-off for the kids.

  7. evan miller says:

    I’m with you #7. Same goes for Episcopalians/Anglicans on this side of the pond as well.