Papal nuncio urges Irish to recall faith of their ancestors


The Catholic Church in Ireland had “passed through periods of incredible trial” over 15 centuries here but each time has emerged “stronger, purified and ever more faithful to the Lord”, papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown has said.

But he suggested Irish Catholics needed to ask why it was that “prior generations were able to pass on their faith in situations of extreme hardship – in times of persecution, famine and even forced emigration – while, in our own time of relative comfort and ease, the faith is not always being handed on”.

“Some would say that this was because prior generations were more ignorant than we are or that they held on to their faith because they had nothing else. I have real problems with that kind of explanation.”

In an interview for the Catholic bishops’ Intercom magazine, he asked could it be that the “way in which we live in modern western societies makes us less sensitive to spiritual realities? Could it be, for example, that filling every hour of every day with music or television or internet or video games or texting, leads to a kind of spiritual insensitivity or numbness?”

He recalled that St Maximilian Kolbe, who died at Auschwitz, “diagnosed the spiritual disease of our times as indifferentism . . . that it really doesn’t matter too much what a person believes”.

The Year of Faith, which began last month, was called “to counteract that idea.What we believe is . . . of the highest importance,” he said.

He had met survivors of abuse in Ireland “and I can testify it is impossible to listen to their stories without feeling the deepest anguish and sorrow for what they have experienced”.

Prior to his appointment as nuncio he had little experience of Ireland. His first trip was with his father when he was about 13. His strongest memory of that visit was visiting Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. “ For me as a young person, it was a very powerful experience.”