To attract back lapsed Catholics, the Church must embrace the vision of Pope Francis and present the Gospel in a way that is positive and uplifting rather than concentrating on negatives, the country’s newest bishop has said.
Bishop of Achonry Paul Dempsey was ordained at the weekend, and at just 49 also becomes Ireland’s youngest bishop.
“I think the reality for a lot of people in Ireland today is they have a certain view of what the Church is about and it’s quite narrow in certain ways.
“Whereas the Church should be involved in every aspect of life – and that’s what the Gospel is about: it’s a refreshing, beautiful message and for us the challenge is to be creative and imaginative in trying to present that message with a sense of joy,” he told The Irish Catholic.
Referring to the need to model evangelisation on Pope Francis, Bishop Dempsey said: “I think people identify with his humanity and also his message about going back to the basics of what we’re about as a Church.
“He [Pope Francis] has said a number of times that we tend to focus on certain moral issues – which are absolutely very important – but there’s an awful lot more to the life of the Church than just maybe two or three controversial moral issues – it’s how we live our lives, it’s how we live the Gospel, it’s the joy of the Gospel that we have to try and live and that will attract people,” he said.
He also said told that he is concerned about the impact of a lack of faith in contemporary Ireland.
“There’s a sense today that many people don’t feel that sense of love in their lives or in their hearts, and maybe they go down the line of addiction or whatever it is, whereas we have this precious message that should be delivered at people with a joyous heart…that’s the challenge of ministry today: whether we’re in the priesthood, the baptised
Faithful or whatever it is that’s the challenge, that’s the mission that we have today.
“I think we just have to be creative and imaginative in that and to try and bring that message in a renewed way to people in Ireland today,” he said, insisting that the Church cannot retreat from the public square.
“We need to be out there with people and among people. And when we look at the Gospel, that is what Jesus Christ did,” he said.