Look to the future now, though times are tough, says Martin
The Archbishop of Dublin yesterday warned that the church faces even tougher times ahead -- but added that he was optimistic about the process of church renewal in the year ahead.
Diarmuid Martin said that he believed society had been taken in by "empty values" in recent years but that he believed people wanted to pass on positive values to their children.
He made his comments yesterday as he helped to spread festive cheer -- singing his heart out with the Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson and a choir outside St Ann's Church on Dublin's Dawson Street to raise funds for charity.
"It's been a tough year and every year will get tougher in some ways," Archbishop Martin said. "Things are changing. But you have to be optimistic. I feel that next year, we will be able to move forward."
When questioned about the abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church, he said they had to be remembered.
"The abuse will always be a part of us," he said.
"You can't just say 'Let's forget about it'. That will never happen. But the church has to reform itself, renew itself.
"And I think with the Eucharistic Congress coming, that will be one example of ways we can do that."
He said there were challenges ahead for the church because "the type of infrastructure" that supported it is not there anymore.
"People have to build up their own faith," he said.
"But I believe the parents of young children are looking and thinking about positive values they want to pass on to those children. What sort of society do we want to create in Ireland together for the future?
"I think you can see that , as we look back a few years, we weren't very discerning as to where our values were and all of us were taken in by empty values."
He said he felt the church could regain its standing but it "would be different" and respect "would not be handed on a platter".
He said the lack of jobs was his biggest concern, when asked about the church's finances.
"All voluntary organisations are in the same situation," he said.
"The first thing you have to say is there are people who have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods. We all have to be concerned about that.
"On the other hand, we have to ensure that the type of services the church provided can continue.
"We have to as a country get together and rebuild in the right way, not rebuild what was there before, but build up a new type of Irish society in which solidarity will be much stronger than simply thinking of yourself and speculating."
The archbishop was taking part in an annual fundraiser known as the 'Black Santa Appeal' because of the long heavy black cloaks worn by the clergy to keep out the cold.
It continues until tomorrow, and donations go to St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, the Simon Community, Protestant Aid, Trust and Church of Ireland Overseas Aid.