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Christian belief ‘vanished' in Ireland, Archbishop warns

 Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell
Dominic McGrath, PA

A leading member of the Irish clergy has said that evidence of Christian belief in Ireland “has for all intents and purposes vanished”.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell warned that the “current model of the Church is unsustainable”.

The comments were made in an interview with the latest edition of Siolta, the annual journal of the national seminary in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

In the interview, Archbishop Farrell warned Ireland’s “crisis of faith” is “particularly acute among the younger generations”.

“Public commentary in the media in Ireland has not been positive in its understanding of the Church and its need for vocations, and for public support of those trying to preach the Gospel,” he said.

The Archbishop, who was appointed to the role last year, set out the challenges facing the church.

“We have an ageing clergy and very few vocations to the diocesan priesthood or religious life. There is a major decline in the number of people who actively practise and live their faith.

“Today the visibility of faith has for all intents and purposes vanishes. I am also dealing with the legacy of sexual abuse scandals which have damaged the Church’s credibility. Since finance is a function of numbers, financial issues will arise which will be accelerated by the global pandemic and its aftermath.”

In the same interview, he said members of the clergy needed to “encourage a participatory institutional model of Church with a leadership of service”.

He said that he was not “pessimistic” about the future of the Church in Dublin and suggested “this time of reduced numbers may well afford us an opportunity to be creative and reimagine the institutional Church”.

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