New Ireland primate wants laity to renew Church

The new Primate of All Ireland wants to see a humble renewal of the Irish Church led from the bottom up by the laity.

Archbishop Eamon Martin became Archbishop of Armagh and Ireland’s primate following Pope Francis’s acceptance of the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady, who had turned 75.

According to The Tablet, during an address at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh on September 8, Archbishop Martin pledged to be a “servant leader” and cautioned against expectations of top-down leadership.

He called on the laity to take ownership of their vocation and mission to hand on the faith.

Outlining his vision for the future of the Church, the archbishop said it would not be about “building up some big edifice or some triumphalist Church or trying to make sure that it dominates politics and the state”.

Archbishop Martin, 52, said he wanted “a Church that is humble . . .  a Church on our knees, hopefully in prayer, recognising the terrible things that have happened in the past and the need to ask God’s mercy and to ask forgiveness of people”.

But he warned that he is only one person and cannot work miracles for the Church in Ireland.

He said the Irish Church found itself in a new context and must find ways of bringing the Gospel to the people.

Ireland was now a country of different Christian traditions and faiths, and quite a number of people who do not identify themselves with any faith, he said.

Even though people are living in a very fast world with many commitments, he believed “people still need God in their lives and they need their Church”.

“There is still a lot of hope in people that they would like a renewal of their Church”.

Referring to his episcopal motto, “Sing a New Song to the Lord”, he indicated that the renewal he had in mind would not be revolutionary.

“I am not actually talking about writing new words but maybe a new way of singing the song of God in people’s lives,” he said, adding that he was inspired by Pope Francis’s ideas about “pastoral ministry in a missionary key”.

The archbishop said his priorities would be “to get to know my people and to facilitate a movement that will allow people to be confident in their faith without being polemical and condemnatory”.


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