Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace – Hebrews 13:7-9Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Bishop Kieran O’Reilly has launched a new pastoral plan for his Archdiocese called “Seeds of Hope”. O’Reilly stated that the Church must “step out of the past, embrace the present and move to the future”.
OK I think we could all agree we need to do something. The Church has completely ceased to have a role in society and in Ireland it seems to have all but lost any moral authority it may have once had. A 2012 survey of Irish Catholics undertaken by the Association of Catholic Priests found the weekly mass attendance rate to be 35% on an all-island basis, while daily mass attendance was reported at 3%. I doubt things have improved since then, as older people die off, Mass attendance rates in Ireland (already as low as 2 percent in some Dublin parishes) will soon resemble those in even more secular countries. Meanwhile, the Vocations crisis provides a clear reflection of what’s going on in the lay community. I mean, Vocations are a disaster in England and Wales, but Ireland’s situation almost make the England & Wales look good!
So Archbishop O’Reilly is speaking to an existential crisis. So how exactly is it going to ‘Step out of the past’? What is his great plan for renewal?