Group Discussion:

What is the Future for Faith?


Our theme invites questions such as how the invitation of Christ be brought to the attention of present and future generations?

The 2011 Census returns reveal that 84% of the population of Ireland identify themselves as Catholics, one-third of these attend Mass once a week, and in the MORI poll more than two-thirds attended services far less frequently.  This apparent inconsistency needs to be carefully interpreted.  There is undeniably a major decline in Church practice and in the sense of belonging to an active community.  Many of the reasons are well known, some can be dealt with.  Other reasons are not known and the Irish Church has no forum in which people with questions can be listened to.

The means by which Christ’s invitation to “Follow me” was made known to the older generations are now no longer available.  There is a generation of parents who have had few opportunities and little time to deepen their faith, most schools have already passed out of the influence of clergy and religious, priests are burdened with an increasingly heavy workload

The objective of the discussion groups will be, through reflection and respectful listening, to come up with ideas that will provide some answers to these questions.  The focus of these discussions will be the present reality of our Church, and the aim is to provide an opportunity to discern how the Spirit is working among us at this time.

We propose to document the points made in our discussion groups and report these ideas to the Bishops, the Papal Nuncio, the Association of Catholic Priests, the Association of Catholics in Ireland, and, through our website, to all interested people.



At the Pobal Dé Conference delegates in small groups discussed and gave feedback in relation to the two guest speakers Ms Cathy Molloy BD & STL and Fr Tony O’ Riordan SJ.  The small groups also highlighted a number of issues being experienced at parish level.  Finally, the small groups identified ways in which faith formation could be enhanced. 

Below is a summary of discussion and feedback from the small groups. 

Cathy Molloy
The response to Cathy’s paper was very positive.  The Groups agreed that it was a succinct analysis of the present state of the Church.  Groups welcomed the opportunity to see it on the website.  Both her academic perspective and personal experience were welcomed.  It was acknowledged that authentic faith involves an ongoing search for truth.  Remaining with the Church can be draining amidst all of the scandals and cover ups.  Dismissing all opposition to current Church orthodox positions as relativism is much too simplistic.  The dichotomy between Church teaching and life experience of young people is too great.  With Church services such as Christmas services getting very good attendances this illustrates a willingness of people to participate.  Unnecessary Church rules should not block this desire to participate.  The role of women is still ignored. 

Tony O’ Riordan SJ
In general, the small groups welcomed Tony’s challenge to the Church that it should be a Church of the poor.  The authenticity and practice of what Tony spoke about was attested by one of his parishioners.  Groups liked the emphasis of social justice from the practical parish experience.  This ethos of a Church of the poor should be demonstrated and led by the Church’s hierarchy.  Overt symbols of wealth and trappings, in terms of lifestyle and dress, should be dispensed with.  However some participants found the speech like a homily.  It is critical that young people are listened to.  The five wounds of the Church can be summarised as follows:

There are many advocacy groups working with those on the margins and working for reform and renewal in the Church.  We need to come together and share our experiences.  In this way we can energise one another and learn from one another. 

The role of the Vatican and the response of the Bishops and Church as an organisation to the many child sexual abuse scandals has been totally inadequate and reprehensible. 
There are far too many Church rules.  There is disappointment, anger and confusion due to the content and process involved in the changing of words in the Mass.  Women are hurt by the exclusive language.  They feel undervalued. 
The wide variety of practice regarding the functioning of parishes was the subject of discussion.  In some parishes there is much more openness and consultation regarding issues such as finance.  In some parishes and at diocesan levels there is a lack of information, transparency and accountability with regard to the disposal of funds contributed by churchgoers. 
In many instances the Clergy do not appear to receive training in areas such as: identifying and utilising parish resources; communicating with parishioners and best practice in parish management. 
Members of the laity have the freedom to speak freely and without constraint.  This is not the case with the clergy. 
Lay people who stay involved in the Church are often very right wing so too are many clerical students and newly ordained priests. 

People ambitious for change within the Church need to persevere in their efforts to achieve change which will come slowly over time. 

Actions to facilitate change in the Church and contribute to faith formation:






<< Go Back