Archbishop Diarmuid Martin bemoans lack of Catholic intellectuals in Ireland

Church needs ‘competent lay men and women well educated in their faith’

The Catholic Church in Ireland is “very lacking” in people of intellect who, educated in their faith, can address the pressing issues of the day, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

He was “haunted” by a quote from Pope Benedict at the beatification of Cardinal Newman in 2010. “He said: ‘The service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing ‘subjects of the day’,” the Archbishop recalled.

“If the place of the Church in the current social and political discussion in Ireland risks becoming increasingly marginal, this is not just due to some sort of external exclusion; it is also because the Church in Ireland is very lacking in ‘keen intellects and prolific pens addressing the pressing subjects of the day’,” said the Archbishop.

It was “a role especially for competent lay men and women well educated in their faith. The contribution of the Church to the improvement of society will not be attained simply by negative political commentary. It will not be attained by morbid and depressive analysis of the woes of the Church. It will never be attained by religious media which allow themselves to be reduced to mere blogs of clerical gossip. It cannot be attained by creating a neo-clerical Church, focussed just on priests.”

What was needed was “a vibrant affirmation of the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ (2013 document published by Pope Francis). It may seem a paradox, but without a vibrant lay affirmation of the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ we will never produce priestly vocations,” he said .

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