Severe drop in Catholic Church income in Dublin during pandemic
Archbishop says it is time ‘to build new models of ministry’ in time of ‘crisis’
Archbishop Dermot Farrell said that the Church in Dublin “needed to evolve... We do know that a radical renewal is required.” File photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times
Archbishop Dermot Farrell has approved a proposal to run a Summer Dues collection to support priests of the Dublin Archdiocese after revenue generated by weekly churches collections collapsed as a result of the Covid-19.
Finances have been “severely impacted” by the pandemic, Archbishop Farrell has said with the drop in income from the usual two collections at Sunday Masses down by “80per cent and 86 per cent respectively for the first quarter (January to March 2021).”
The initiative, which is aimed at making up a portion of the shortfall, will follow the pattern of the Christmas and Easter dues collections giving parishioners an opportunity to contribute to the income that supports priests.
“The Summer Offering collection will be launched on the weekend of the 20th June,” he said in a letter to parishioners.
In Dublin there are two collections at Sunday Masses, one to support its priests and the second ‘Share’ collection to help disadvantaged parishes. “ In the last financial year, the clergy collection decreased by 54 per cent and the ‘Share’ collection decreased by 65 per cent. This year the situation is even more grave,” he said.
Expressing gratitude to all who “continued to give so generously in the past 15 months” he said “this generosity cannot be expected to address the deeper financial challenges which the Archdiocese faces.”
Separately, speaking at Mass in the Pro-Cathedral to mark the recent feast of St Kevin, he said the current parish system in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese “is not sustainable.”
The Church in Dublin “needed to evolve as the resources available no longer allow me to appoint priests, deacons and other pastoral ministers to meet the pastoral needs of every faith community,” he said. “We do know that a radical renewal is required,” he said.
Speaking of “the current shortage of vocations to the priesthood and religious life” he felt that “perhaps the Lord is indicating that it is time to make the necessary choices to build new models of ministry.”
What was emerging “is a different sense of ‘ownership’ of the Church and its mission from a ‘clergy-owned’ Church to a Church truly ‘owned’ by the People of God. This change, indeed, this transformation will take time.”
It implied “a different role and a new self-understanding by those of us in ministerial priesthood,” he said. “ We may no longer ignore that God’s people are the Church, and their contribution cannot be underestimated in the Church.”
The history of the Church in Ireland has had five discernible historical phases, he said: “ the Gaelic and Monastic Church, the Anglo-Norman Church,the Reformation and Penal Church, the Post-Emancipation Church, and now the Church in Contemporary Ireland. In each of these historical phases there was a beginning, a flourishing and a decline.”
The Church was “continually changing and adapting. The people of God are a people on the move, a people on pilgrimage through life and history. This is how the Church actually is: never static, but continually responding to a changing cultural context”.
“What we are experiencing today is a crisis in a particular historical form of Church,” he said.