Darmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, said this week during a priestly retreat, that “pervasive individualism” is undermining the nation’s Catholic faith, and called for a the creation of strong faith communities as a “new clerical culture,” to revert the process of secularization.
The Archbishop spoke of the need for priests, bishops, lay Catholics and the Church’s ministries to reflect a sense of community, centered on the Eucharist, “the center of any spirituality of the ordained priest” and the “pinnacle of all the activities of the Church.”
He said that “people are happy to support a Church which witnesses to its faith through service and caring,” and will judge communities on whether they are “caring and compassionate communities.” However, because of individualism many who “want to keep a space for God in their lives” do not feel the need to participate in a worshipping community.”
“There is also a specific religious individualism,” he says “a tendency to interpret a mission which springs from baptism in an individualistic way, as if it were “my baptism” which empowers me as an individual, rather than seeing baptism, and this ministry which derives from baptism, as linked to the Eucharistic community.”
“Baptism commits all to mission,” the Archbishop emphasized, “But that mission takes place within a Eucharistic community. There are no private ministries in the Church. All ministries draw their origin from and are exercised within the Eucharistic community of the Church.”
With regard to the ministry of the priest he said that “the priest who presides is called in the first place to be the exemplar of the community which receives the gift of the Eucharist. This means that the presider is in an exemplary way the listener, the person of prayer, the one who allows the gifts of the spirit to be welcomed by the entire community so that the community “becomes one body, one spirit in Christ”.
“We need a new model of Bishop, who does not appear as simply the CEO of the diocese, but who day-in and day-out preaches the Gospel and works shoulder to shoulder with priest and others in the front line of evangelization,” he said.
In order to respond to alternative visions of life which are increasingly drawing young people away from the Church and into secular or new age forms of religious affiliations Archbishop Martin says that “the transmission of the faith in the years to come will have to be more and more linked with the creation of faith communities, like the basic ecclesial communities that we speak about in the context of Africa or Latin America.”
“These communities will help people, young and old, to be formed in their faith and to live out their faith concretely in a cultural context which is less and less supportive of faith.”
“So many of our Church structures are no longer adequate to contemporary mission. So many of our structures are not geared towards evangelization. Our structures must be adapted or if necessary replaced.”
He said that the Church in Dublin was hoping to launch a pastoral project called: “Parishes working together for mission”. “The structures which will evolve will depend above all on our own ability to live the Gospel, which is always the same, in a new way, and to allow that Gospel to lead us on.”