Archbishop warns of ‘growing alienation’ between church and young people

Church and missionaries must ‘rise out of narrow preoccupation with self’

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin referred to the “growing distance between young people and the teachings of Christ”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin referred to the “growing distance between young people and the teachings of Christ”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned of the “growing alienation between young people and the church” and the rapidly falling numbers of people attending Mass across the country.

Speaking at a Mass in Dalgan Park, Co Meath, marking the centenary of the Columban Missionaries, Dr Martin said the crisis of the Irish church was not only caused by a “lack of vocations” but that the bigger issue was the growing distance between young people and the teachings of Christ.

Priests are struggling to communicate with young people about religious matters, he said. “The same is true of Christian parents who day after day struggle in seeking to transmit something of their own sense of faith and prayer to their children. Yet they are truly proud of the great sense of idealism and goodness, of justice and care of their children.”

A “Family and Mission Day” was held in Dalgan Park, the home of the Missionary Society of St Columban Ireland, on Sunday as part of the celebrations marking 100 years of Columban missions.

Dr Martin said he hoped the celebrations could be used as part of a “new drive to restore confidence in the family as a way to transmit faith” ahead of the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland in August.

‘Mistake’

Meanwhile, Dr Martin has apologised to churchgoers in Mount Merrion in Dublin over an “unfortunate mistake” that led to no priest turning up to say Mass last month.

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan had helped to conduct a prayer service in the Church of Saint Therese in the absence of the priest. She later said the Catholic Church should ordain women as priests and also allow priests to marry.

Dr Martin last week criticised Ms Madigan’s comments, which he said had caused “considerable distress” to churchgoers in the parish. He accused her of “pushing an agenda” and said there was no shortage of priests in Dublin.

“This was not a planned event, but an unfortunate mistake, but a mistake that should not have happened,” he said on Saturday.

However, he said his comments on Ms Madigan’s action did not suggest that “it was inappropriate in such a situation for the community to gather in prayer”, which he added was “praiseworthy”.

“Neither did I say that in such a situation the prayer ought not to be led by a woman. This is something that happens in such situations elsewhere,” he said. “My concern was that such a situation that was unplanned should have been escalated into something else.”