By Cian Molloy - 09 September, 2018
Ireland’s faithful need to reflect with a sense of urgency on the future of the Church, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said in Lourdes yesterday.
Speaking during a Mass at the Grotto of Our Lady, Archbishop Martin said the recent eventful weeks, involving Pope Francis’s visit and the World Meeting of Families, were something that the people of Ireland and the Archdiocese of Dublin could take great pride in.
“The people of Dublin responded with generosity and enthusiasm to the occasion,” he said. “I will always remember the crowds that thronged the streets of Dublin as the Pope journeyed across our city. I remember the faces of men, women and, especially, of families and their children at the various events.
“I remember the warmth of the people of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes as the Pope made a short stop at their parish and the shrine of Matt Talbot. I remember the simplicity of the meeting at the Franciscan Food Centre and the remarkable gathering of almost 400 young couples preparing for, or who had recently celebrated, the sacrament of marriage.
“There were the great events in Croke Park and in the Phoenix Park and of course the three-day conference in the RDS. Looking back, we have every reason to be proud.”
However, the Archbishop said that it was important to look forward, as well as to look back. “It is not just a time to remember what we have done so well, but to reflect with a sense of urgency on the future.”
The leader of the Dublin Archdiocese has spoken repeatedly in recent times about his hope that the Church in Ireland will work towards becoming “more authentically the Church of Jesus Christ in a culture that is different”.
“We look towards the future of the Church in Dublin and in Ireland,” he said. “There were those who could only see in the visit of Pope Francis what they considered the end of the Church as they saw it. The problem is that many of those commentators had really lost the understanding of what the Church is.
“I am not necessarily blaming them. Sadly, many have lost an understanding of the Church because of the way we as Church have lived and failed.
“The Church had too often become closed in on itself and became marked at times with what Pope Francis called ‘attitudes of aloofness and clericalism that at times in your history have given the real image of an authoritarian, harsh and autocratic Church’.
“The Church is not just an institution of a cluster of social institutions. It is above all the place where we learn to know Jesus as the one who revealed to us who God is, a God of mercy and compassion, a God not just of judgement, but a God who offers us forgiveness and new beginnings. In the Church we experience hope and renewal.”
Archbishop Martin is in Lourdes as leader of the 2000-strong Dublin diocese pilgrimage. Each year Ireland’s largest pilgrimage travels to the shrine in southern France where Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette 160 years ago.