What is the Future for Faith?
The faith of many committed Catholics has been rocked in recent years by the sex abuse scandals, the cover-ups and by the lack of progress in many areas of Church life, such as the ordination of women and married men. At the same time there is a sharp decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in Ireland and other Western countries. We are being served as a result by rapidly ageing and often overburdened clergy and religious. Many, especially among the younger generations, are losing their faith or their commitment to it and quietly disengaging from Church practice and Church life.
This year we celebrate fifty years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council which Pope John XXIII described as an “aggiornamento” – a bringing up-to-date to make the Church fit for purpose in a rapidly-changing world. In Ireland, those most in touch with this world still await inclusion in the Church’s planning process. Yet the response of lay people at this time is crucial: seldom in the history of the Church has its future been so greatly dependent on the commitment of every baptised person.
In this Year of Faith we will reflect at our Conference on our commitment as lay people, on what we are called to do as followers of Christ in the circumstances of our lives, on how we can support one another in bringing Christ’s values into public debate and on how we can reach out more effectively to the young.
As the shortage of priests becomes acute, and schools pass out of the control of clergy and religious, parents, the primary educators, have few opportunities for formation in faith, the key question for our pilgrim People of God now is: Who will bring the invitation of Christ to future generations?