Internet will not solve Faith crisis, says bishop

Internet will not solve Faith crisis, says bishop Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan with Pope Francis.

Clergy cannot rely solely on the internet to reach young people on the peripheries, Waterford and Lismore’s bishop has said.

In response to online initiatives which intend to educate lay people about the Faith, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan said that although the internet is “a space inhabitated by the younger generations”, proper formation requires being around and speaking with others.

“The internet, yes – but I would say you still have to gather people because it’s very difficult to form, to be formed if you’re isolated, if you’re not part of a group,” he told The Irish Catholic.

Dr Cullinan added that formation cannot be achieved “even in a series of talks or in a short period of time”, such as programmes like Café Theology where laity can listen to speakers talk about a religious topic for around half an hour, but instead takes serious and committed effort.


This formation, he said, is “essential” given that the intellectual understanding of the Faith in Ireland has waned.

“Intellectual formation is essential. The Irish, we have been traditionally very good at prayer and devotion but very often the theological foundation has been lacking,” he said, adding that it’s vital we transmit the “riches” of our wonderful Church tradition.

This transmission, he suggested, can be difficult to achieve with young people whose appetite for the deeper questions of life appear to be lukewarm, and is overshadowed by “worldly things” that don’t satisfy.

Despite this, Dr Cullinan stressed that it was necessary to reach out to young people on the internet and that this could be the first step in their Faith development.

“…It’s an opener. But then how do you bring a person into a community of other living persons to meet Christ? And it is possible to and it is happening,” he said.