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Archbishop says young people need greater roles in the Church

By Susan Gately - 27 October, 2018

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Taking part in the Synod on Young People this month was a “graced moment”, the Primate of All Ireland told a press conference at the Holy See press office yesterday.

Archbishop Eamon Martin admitted that he came to the event “with scepticism”. He said that although the Church had been trying to connect with young people in Ireland it “hadn’t made a very good job of it”, in particular once young people had left school.

The Archbishop of Armagh voiced his concern that “the Holy Spirit seemed to have been left out of the working document” for the synod, but he had felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the communion he experienced with the bishops and young people.

“I believe if we are to rejuvenate our Church with the life and gifts of young people, then it has to be the action of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Martin said.

Asked by ZENIT what his biggest takeaway from the synod would be, Archbishop Martin answered it was the realisation that young people are not just the objects of Church ministry. Coming to the synod he thought he had to learn how to minister better to young people. “I’m going home with a far greater sense of young people being agents of evangelisation themselves. One of my greatest takeaways is that phrase from the Gospel: ‘New wine, fresh skins.’ I think for a long time, speaking personally, I’ve been trying to squeeze ministry to young people into an old way of thinking, a way of maintenance – that the structures we have in the Church, the way we do things – somehow we have to get our young people and push them into this old way of thinking and doing.”

He said the synod had encouraged him to think a bit more ambitiously about engaging in new ways with young people and then to encourage them to become missionary disciples to their peers. “So I must go home seeking ways of re-imagining parishes, dioceses, even our own episcopal conferences. How can I bring more of these talented, articulate, faith-filled young people into the daily life and decision-making roles of the Church at home?”

Archbishop Martin was asked if it was time for the Church to move beyond the child abuse scandals. He replied: “People sometimes say to me: ‘Do you think that the Church will ever be able to put this behind it?’ And I say ‘No’, and nor should we because people who have been traumatised by abuse never are able to put it behind them. They carry it throughout their lives and therefore so should we.

“Sometimes I feel there are still areas of life in the Church where this issue has not yet come to the light, and there are some areas where this issue is denied and not given its proper place,” Archbishop Martin said.

The Synod on Young People runs from 3rd to 28th October. Its final document is due to be published this weekend.

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