Saturday 19 October 2019

‘A visit to a Church very different to that of 1979’

The busy St Aidan’s Cathedral last Tuesday evening
The busy St Aidan’s Cathedral last Tuesday evening

Pádraig Byrne

Speaking at the local launch of the launch of the week-long World Meeting of Families at the cathedral ahead of the Pope's visit last week, Bishop Denis Brennan conceded that the church had been 'complacent' in the wake of revelations regarding child sexual abuse and that this complacency has resulted in a church that's 'unsure of its future'.

In his sermon at the service, which was attended by representatives of religious orders, community groups and parishes across the diocese, Bishop Brennan compared Ireland and the Catholic Church of today with that which existed at the time of Pope John Paul's visit in 1979.

'Pope John Paul was welcomed by a self-confident church, sure of its place in society and at ease with itself and, perhaps in light of subsequent developments, complacent,' he said.

'This time Pope Francis will be welcomed by a wounded church; many of these wounds are self-inflicted. The church now is anxious and unsure of its future.'

'These are testing and difficult times for believers,' he continued. 'People are troubled and hurt, and understandably so. Some think it's not a good time for a Papal visit; that the background music isn't right. Maybe it's the ideal time.

'The Pope's role in the church is to confirm his brothers and sisters in faith - something which is badly needed at the moment.'

With the whole focus of the week's celebrations being centred on family, Bishop Brennan also spoke on this, saying that 'there will be a frank acknowledgement that there is no such thing as the perfect family'. 'We can only recognise the reality,' he said. 'We don't have a perfect Church; we don't live in a perfect country; we don't live in a perfect world. So why should we expect every family to be perfect?'

The bishop then spoke of the importance of the family to a packed St Aidan's Cathedral. Fr Odhrán Furlong said that it was a great start to what was to be a busy week for the church.

'We were packed to capacity here,' he said. 'We had people travel to the cathedral from right across the diocese. To begin with we had a procession into the church with community groups such as the RNLI, the Girl Guides, the Irish Red Cross and organisations like that. We also had religious orders from across the diocese with different relics.'

Fostering the inclusive atmosphere, prayers were offered in English, Irish, Polish and Spanish on the day and it really got the ball rolling for the hundreds of people who intended to travel to Mass in the Phoenix Park on Sunday.

New Ross Standard