Church must reach out to the young before it is too late, says archbishop
THE Catholic Church in Ireland has reached a critical juncture in its history and priests and people should "grasp the opportunity" to reach out to young people before it is too late, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has urged.
Calling on the faithful to set their differences aside, the leader of the country's largest diocese, Dublin, said they must work together to find new ways to energise the faith, particularly among the young.
Recalling the success of last June's International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, he told a packed congregation at the capital's Pro Cathedral that the event had shown there was hope for the future.
The archbishop also spoke about the sentencing of former Dublin priest Patrick McCabe to 18 months in jail last week for the abuse of two 13-year-old boys in the 1970s.
He acknowledged that the "horror of abuse" had taken place "in this parish, in the vaults and in the precincts of this mother church of the diocese".
For that reason, he suggested he could not let the case pass unnoticed without remembering the "anguish of the victim".
However, he also said the church in Ireland had made "great progress in the area of child safeguarding".
The archbishop, who served as a Vatican diplomat before his appointment to Dublin, said a friend of his who works in the Vatican and is in close contact with Pope Francis had told him that the new pontiff was a pope of "surprises and more surprises and even more surprises to come".
His words were echoed by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, at Limerick Cathedral. He told the congregation that with the election of Pope Francis "a new and exciting chapter" in the church's life was opening up.
The Archbishop of Armagh, Cardinal Sean Brady, made an appeal for the remaining 'Disappeared' victims who vanished during the Troubles.
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland said the relatives of seven victims, who remain unaccounted for, deserved closure.
"The death of a loved one is always a heartbreaking time for those left behind, but when your loved one is taken away as these victims were without any trace, the pain is almost too much to bear," he said.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly hit out at dissident priest Fr Tony Flannery's views on the priesthood. The archbishop said in Thurles Cathedral that priesthood came directly down to the church from the Last Supper through the Apostles and not from "a coup d'eglise" in a later century.