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Fears over the “growing polarisation” within the Church

By Sarah Mac Donald - 29 January, 2019

Young people came together at the Emmaus Centre Swords to celebrate World Youth Day with Pope Francis and tens of thousands of young people in Panama City. They watched live streaming of events from Panama and took part in music and drama workshops. Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Pic John Mc Elroy

Fears over a “growing polarisation” within the Church prompted Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to hit out at those who use “nastiness and hatred” to hammer home their message.

At a Mass at the Emmaus Conference Centre in Dublin for young Irish Catholics who could not travel to Panama for World Youth Day with Pope Francis, the Archbishop expressed concern over “certain groups who seem to think that they have a right self-righteously to proclaim threats in the name of how they understand the truth”.

He told the gathering that the truth will only be attained in love. “Error will only be refuted in love. Nastiness and hatred betray the message of love.”

He added that “Evil can only be confronted by goodness. Difference can be overcome by dialogue.”

He stressed that faith does not produce “conformism” but challenged believers to be different and to be truly authentic in their life and in their choices.

“Faith is about a transcendent God and must always lead us to go beyond ourselves. Faith is about a God who is love and who liberates, it must help us to overcome selfishness and arrogance and be truly loving and caring people.”

But if the message becomes stale in people’s lives, then they lose their the way.

“If we begin to think that we have all the answers about faith, then we have become trapped in our own ways of thinking,” Dr Martin told the assembled young people from parishes across the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Pic John Mc Elroy

He said many young people lose faith in God because “they have inherited the wrong God. The basis of our faith must be the God communicated to us in Jesus Christ.”

Contrasting how life was when he was growing up, and the limited choices available to people, he said that life today is very different.

“Your generation chooses. Young people choose to believe or not to believe, to belong to a Church or to go their own way. Many have some kind of generic faith or spirituality but little to do with the Church. In that sense, your presence here today is a sign that you wish to be different. You wish to move away from an inherited faith and come to a better understanding of what faith in Jesus Christ can mean in your life and in discerning who you really want to be.”

Referring to his almost 50 years as a priest and 20 years as a bishop, the Archbishop said he had seen many changes and been called to challenges that he could not have imagined.

“My prayer is that your generation will now take on the challenge of renewing the Church for it to be the place where young people like yourselves will learn the beauty of faith and the joy of living the Gospel.”

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