The Irish Catholic church must battle to stay relevant in an increasingly secular society, some might say.
Sixteen Irish priests are about to take the battle into their own hands, so to speak.
They are planning to hear confessions at an Irish shopping centre next month.
The priests will be available to customers for confessions in Skycourt Shopping Centre in Co Clare on December 8.
Shannon’s Parish Priest Fr Tom Ryan told The Irish Catholic newspaper that the initiative “was in response to Pope Francis’ call to priests to go out to the market place and proclaim the Gospel”.
“There are shopping centres in every large town in the country. There is no reason why they couldn’t do the same,” he said.
“The Year of Mercy is the opportunity to do that. I think if the initiative is of benefit to just one person the day will have been worthwhile,” he said.
Skycourt Manager Pat Kelly said he was happy to support the initiative.
“I jumped on it straight away as I thought it was a great idea. It gives Christmas shoppers an opportunity to do their shopping under one roof and avail of the opportunity to meet with a priest and have a chat in a neutral environment where they are comfortable,” he told the newspaper.