Dear Editor, David Quinn writes that it’s up to individual people and parish communities to revive the Church in Ireland (IC 19/12/19) rather than the Pope – I think he’s spot on.
It’s true that Francis is probably one of the most popular Pontiffs among the secular public but this won’t put people in the pews or evangelise them. Conversion and evangelisation can only happen when people have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ – and this almost always happens in a local community.
Of course, people have turned to the Faith by stumbling upon a papal encyclical but these stories are few and far between. Most people find Christ in their local church or by being exposed to the Faith through a friend who they admire. If that’s the case, parishes need to make a concerted effort to reach out to those in the community who don’t attend Mass or see the faith as irrelevant.
Indeed, Mr Quinn rightly states: “An awful lot more has to be done on the youth front as well. It is very unlikely that your children or grandchildren will keep going to Mass unless some of their peers are doing so as well. In some parts of the country, there isn’t a decent Christian youth group for miles around.”
If you think Mass attendance numbers are low now, just wait three decades and at the rate we’re going, the pews will be empty. Reading the Bible and going to church on Sunday doesn’t happen by accident – parents pass the tradition onto their children and so on. If parents are no longer doing this, and if the older generation is the only demographic in church, then Mass attendance will eventually die out. We need a renewal in Ireland…and fast.
Attire not relevant
Dear Editor, There’s been plenty of discussion about US Bishop Joseph Strickland’s call for men/boys and women/girls to wear more formal attire at Mass.
The argument goes that if you would wear a suit and tie or a dress on special occasions, then why not also do so on the most significant event ever: the Mass. It’s here that Jesus becomes eminently present and is where we eat his body and drink his blood. Surely, we should be wearing our best items of clothing for it? Not so. I don’t think God cares what we wear. Jesus wasn’t interested in social or aesthetic prestige and was comfortable associating with the poor and the marginalised.
Are we to say that those who can’t afford pristine clothing are in some way lacking in their spiritual life when they attend church? Wear what you want to Mass – your character should not be judged on the content of your wardrobe but on the content of your heart.
Dress for a sacred event
Dear Editor, A US bishop has come out saying that we should wear more appropriate clothing in Mass. In my own experience, I have seen people in church wearing cargo shorts and small vest tops. I personally think it’s inappropriate.
You’re not going to a party, you’re going to a sacred event. God deserves our very best…and that includes what clothes we wear!
Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Best foot forward, Fr Ray
Dear Editor, I’m over the moon that Fr Ray Kelly will be appearing on RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars. The Irish Church has been receiving so much negative press, so it’s nice to see a more positive story about clergy in Ireland. Understandably, many Catholics will be suspicious of a priest taking part in such a secular television show, but I think it highlights that clergy are normal people too who have their own hobbies and ambitions. At the very least, his appearance will get people talking in their homes about the Church and religion in general. Who knows, maybe someone might even be inspired by him and join the priesthood.
Disappointment at delay
Dear Editor, It’s upsetting to read that Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s beatification has been postponed for an undesignated period of time (IC 12/12/19). The reason for the delay – speculation about his role in priests’ assignments – made me raise an eyebrow though. The diocese of Peoria said that it’s “important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, an allegation against (Archbishop) Sheen involving the abuse of minor”. One can only assume that the allegations made against the prelate involve his knowing of abuse by priests and not sufficiently responding to it. I hope this is not true.
It bodes ill if we can’t welcome the stranger
Dear Editor, I began reading David Quinn’s article on the ‘Church’ and ‘asylum policy’ (IC 05/12/19) with great interest, only to be completely dismayed by his assertion that we need to distinguish between “genuine asylum-seekers and those who are really economic migrants”.
Is he not aware that Ireland has signed up to the ECHR (the European convention on Human Rights), which establishes the human right of every migrant to move from their country of origin for protection, but also for economic or even educational reasons?
For this assertion to be made in a Catholic newspaper supposedly loyal to the Christian principles of universal love and justice for all, horrifies me as it feeds into an undercurrent of racism which is unfortunately being voiced sometimes even in our society. This is a cancer which destroys societies from the inside. If we are unable to “welcome the stranger” (Matthew 26:39) who is also made in the image and likeness of God, then I fear for the future of our society.
Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow.