Catholic Church Could Fall 'Over The Brink'

The Catholic Church could "fall over the brink" and become irrelevant to society, according to the Archbishop of Dublin.

In a dramatic speech to the Cambridge Group for Irish Studies in the Magdalene College in Cambridge, Diarmuid Martin said that Catholicism in Ireland was being reduced to a tiny minority and becoming "irrelevant in society".

During the speech entitled 'Keeping The Show On The Road', examining the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Bishop Martin quoted the Archbishop of Boston, who had conducted an Apostolic Visitation in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and found that Ireland has only five or at most ten years before it falls 'over the brink'.

Bishop Martin said it was not an easy task to be a priest in Ireland today, that the numbers of priests are falling, and that there is more work to be done by priests who are getting older.

"For the second time since I became Archbishop of Dublin there will be no ordination to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Dublin this year and the coming years indicate only a tiny trickle of new vocations," he said.

He added that parishes were offering very little outreach to young people and that the failure of the Church in this regard was his greatest discouragement as Archbishop of Dublin.

Bishop Martin, who is Ireland's second most senior cleric also said the Church would have to relinquish control of primary schools and that Catholic patronage of the State's primary schools was "a remnant of the past and no longer tenable today".

"It is obvious that there is a desire for change in the management structure of Irish schools. It is recognised that the Irish government has an obligation to ensure that parents who do not want a religious ethos in the formation of their children can, as far as possible, exercise their rights."


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