Monday, December 12, 2011


Protect the Pope have a short article on some comments by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin drawing on reports in the Irish papers. Broadcast last night as part of RTE's 'Would you Believe?' series the Archbishop was interviewed by Mick Peelo.
“It requires maturity on those people who want their children to become members of the church community and maturity on those people who say ‘I don’t believe in God and I really shouldn’t be hanging on to the vestiges of faith when I don’t really believe in it’.” The Irish Times reports: ‘ The Archbishop of Dublin,Diarmuid Martin,has urged the country’s lapsed Catholics to have the maturity to leave the church. Over the past two decades,rising numbers of ‘a la carte’Catholics simply turn up at the altar for the sacraments like baptism,communion and marriage.
Of course the Archbishop's position that non-believers should not pretend to be believers and abuse the Sacraments becomes in the Irish Times an urging of "lapsed Catholics to have the maturity to leave the church". I agree with Fr. Hassett, a parish moderator, who believes the situation is more complex than a mere 'social Catholicism'. We have generations of poorly catechised and evangelised Catholics who are rejecting what they do not understand. Some have been badly hurt by clergy, religious or over-enthusiastic laity. For many it may be simply that it's easier to live in the halfway house of being culturally Catholic without committing to the faith in a real way. These people believe at some level but not enough to make a deeper, more public commitment. But what do we expect after all these years of liberalism and neglect? What do we expect when Confession is not promoted or when the Church's teaching is so often questioned evenly her own clergy? What we have are theists not Christians. There is belief in God 'somewhere way up there' but He is no longer so judgmental or authoritarian. Instead He has become rather soft. He has become a sort of Santa writ large but not much more real. The long road back from such a state will be long and hard indeed.


FrB said...

Any suggestions as to what one might say to the 'cultural Catholics' who will, for example, throng the churches for Christmas Mass? I'm pondering what I might preach this Christmas...

Tom said...

FrB - Well I guess one will have to begin by explaining the New (Corrected) Translation and then one could challenge them to reflect on the import of God becoming man. Since God has done this for us and has directed how He is to be worshipped it is nothing short of bad manners to show up at Christmas and ignore Him for the rest of the year. We will have to offer people a way back, a path they can follow that helps connect what we do in Church and what we do elsewhere. Our faith makes a difference but many people just don't see that.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Here in the Philippines we have a centuries-old tradition of a novena of pre-dawn Masses from 16 to 24 December in thanksgiving for the gift of the faith. This is my tenth year to do the nine Masses in the chapel in the area where I live. I've been encouraging people to go to confession over the years but not with great success. I'm available for about 15 minutes before Mass - it's difficult to be available for a long time when Mass beings at 4:30am! - and after Mass for as long as necessary. I've noticed an increase in the numbers coming to confession this year. Not yet a flood, but an improvement.

I do know that when confession is available people will come. The Redemptorists here in the Philippines have always made themselves available for long periods, especially on Wednesdays when people throng their churches - and other churches - for the novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, introduced ay a Redemptorist US Army chaplain from Boston in Iloilo in 1946 and popularised by the late Fr Patrick Nulty CSsR, an Irishman. The example of young American soldiers filling the Redemptorist church in Iloilo for the novena made a profound impact on the people, as religion was seen my most then as a 'woman's thing'.

Tom said...

Fr Sean - a beautiful and worthy tradition if a bit demanding on the celebrant. You are right that if the Sacrament is available and promoted then the people will come. The sacrament needs to be promoted not by making people terrified of hell as in the past but by encouraging them to love heaven and the holiness that is expected of us.
Unfortunately there has been a tendency here to replace set, regular times for confession with penitential services which, though useful in themselves, are not always well done. Sometimes confessions are set immediately after Mass on a Sunday during Lent or at times when the clergy hope will be convenient but my experience is that one gets the ones that go to confession anyway. Here in my community the sacrament is on offer twice a day on Tuesday and Thursday and three times on a Saturday with the option of requesting it through the Friary office during the day. Attendance varies.


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