Centre for ‘dialogue between faith and reason’ to open in Dublin

Archbishop recently said Irish Catholic Church ‘very lacking’ in people of intellect who can address issues of the day

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he saw ‘the establishment of the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason as an opportunity for University Church to return to its original vocation as a focal point for reflection on faith and reason’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he saw ‘the establishment of the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason as an opportunity for University Church to return to its original vocation as a focal point for reflection on faith and reason’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

 

A new centre for dialogue between faith and reason, between Church and society, is to be set up at the University Church on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

The US Notre Dame University will oversee the initiative at the Church which was founded in 1856 by Blessed John Henry Newman and is considered an icon of the place of faith in Newman’s vision of university formation.

Announcing the initiative, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he saw “the establishment of the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason as an opportunity for University Church to return to its original vocation as a focal point for reflection on faith and reason.

“It is an opportunity for Dublin to take a lead in today’s changed social context in something which is part of the rich heritage of Newman’s presence in Dublin,” he added .” I appreciate especially that the Centre will not be just an intellectual debating centre, but will also work in the formation of an active and committed faith community of young people”.

Earlier this month Archbishop Martin said the Catholic Church in Ireland was “very lacking” in people of intellect who, educated in their faith, can address the pressing issues of the day.

He said he was “haunted” by a quote from Pope Benedict at the beatification of Cardinal Newman in 2010. “He said: ‘The service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing ‘subjects of the day’,” the Archbishop recalled.

“If the place of the Church in the current social and political discussion in Ireland risks becoming increasingly marginal, this is not just due to some sort of external exclusion; it is also because the Church in Ireland is very lacking in ‘keen intellects and prolific pens addressing the pressing subjects of the day.”

The new centre will begin work later this year and will have a special focus on outreach to young people in Dublin.

Notre Dame lecturer in law Fr William R Dailey has been appointed director of the centre with Steve Warner, director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, its associate director.