We have a lot to celebrate in our Faith – don’t be afraid to show it

We have a lot to celebrate in our Faith – don’t be afraid to show it

Sometimes you’d be forgiven for thinking that there is nothing to celebrate in being Catholic and Irish in modern Ireland. Hostility towards the Church is extremely high and truth be told it was always going to intensify in the run up to the visit of Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families. A poll on The Irish Catholic Facebook page found 88% of respondents say they feel hostility towards their Catholic faith.

Let’s be clear, some people have legitimate and justifiable grievances against the Church. For many, no amount of outreach or contrition from Church leaders will heal their pain. That doesn’t mean that the outreach isn’t important – it is vital. But we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking it will be enough.

The fact too is there are also many opportunistic people who simply don’t like the Catholic Church and what it stands for. Many of them are unwilling to give the Church the benefit of the doubt on anything. They will use every opportunity possible to try to present the Church and the Catholic faith in as negative a light as possible.

Witness, for example, the bizarre attempts to link homelessness with the Papal visit. Several media commentators have been willing to take cheap shots against the Church as if Pope Francis is responsible because our political class has normalised the fact of families raising their children in hotel rooms.


The negativity is relentless, but Catholics shouldn’t let it wear them down. A tremendous effort has gone in to organising the World Meeting of Families 2018.

Across Ireland, hundreds of volunteers have been working night and day to ensure that the event is a success and an appropriate celebration for Irish families. The visit of Pope Francis to both Knock and Dublin is the icing on the cake and something many hundreds of thousands of Irish people are looking forward to. With just over a week until the Pontiff touches down for his short trip, excitement is building and Catholics are justifiably thrilled that the successor of St Peter is coming to Ireland.

The Pope will undoubtedly touch on the darker chapters of the history of the Church in this island, and that is entirely appropriate. The story of those who have suffered is part of the story of the Church in Ireland and will remain so.

There will be lots of celebrate too. For most Catholics, they experience the Church in their local communities and through their families. Catholicism is incarnated for them in the daily kindnesses, forgiveness and encouragement that they receive from the local Christian community. God is made present to them through the grace to overcome difficulties and to come to terms with the things that they cannot change.

The story of Christianity, the story of the Church is always one of grace as well as sin. Anything that is made up of human beings always is. And, it was ever thus – the crowning moment of Christianity saw the Saviour of the world crucified between two thieves.

The history of the Church in Ireland as elsewhere hasn’t all been glorious, but it hasn’t all been terrible ever.

The Good News of the Gospel is as relevant today as it ever was – and Ireland has a piercing need for that good news. Catholics must be unafraid to humbly celebrate the joy of their Faith. The World Meeting of Families will be moment of tremendous grace and energy for all those who participate. That is Good News.