Full steam ahead for synodality, say goodbye to the Sunday parish Mass, and increase the powers of the laity: the new Archbishop of Dublin has just delivered his vision of the Church, during an interview with The Hard Shoulder on February 3, 2021.
Although there are currently still 350 active priests in the diocese, serving 197 parishes, the average age among them is 70, and, for Archbishop Dermot Farrell, the decrease in the number of vocations means that the number of parishes will have to be reduced considerably in the coming years.
A post-conciliar movement of retreating has already widely started elsewhere in Europe, but has taken longer to begin on the Island of the Saints whose Catholicism has long been anchored in the heart of society.
“Eventually we will only have possibly one priest per parish and maybe not even that many priests as we go forward… It’s certain that we won’t be able to celebrate Sunday mass in every church in every parish in this diocese,” predicts the new Archbishop of Dublin, who, far from appealing to a desire in favor of priestly and religious vocations, warns that “more and more lay people are going to have to take responsibility in terms of the leadership that’s provided at parish level.” There is a feeling of déjà vu here.
For, in the eyes of the prelate, it is not particularly the time for an examination of conscience in the light of the two-thousand-year-old Tradition of the Church. “I think the Lord is probably saying to us at this time: I don’t want you to keep doing the things that you were doing 100 years ago, 200 years ago.” If it is God who says so ... but this reflection is singularly similar to a recent cardinal’s statement.
The Archbishop then said, “"If I may turn LP Hartley’s famous phrase on its head: ‘the future is a different country, we must do things differently there’” in speaking of the fundamental changes that the Church must achieve, according to him: “We must never again put what we consider the needs of the Church before the needs of the little ones,” and should promote “co-responsibility and overcoming the mindset which runs the risk of relegating the baptized to a subordinate role.”
And so that one does not accuse him of enumerating conciliar clichés which reek of mothballs, Archbishop Farrell claims recourse to the elements of language agreed upon in the current pontificate: “That is what we mean by a synodal Church – a church on the way with each other. The very first place synodality is expressed is at parish level.”
It will be a long winter for the Church in Ireland.