Abortions are now evidently part of Irish Catholic hospital’s “healing ministry”.

The hospital’s compliance with the legislation came into question during the summer when a member of its board of directors said it could “not comply” with the legislation as it ran counter to its Catholic ethos. Fr Kevin Doran, who sits on both the board of directors and the board of governors would not comment this afternoon on the hospital’s decision or his future involvement in it.

The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital is a Catholic voluntary hospital and was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1861. In its mission statement, the hospital says that by caring for the sick, “we participate in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ”.

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Acute problems with the Catholic Church in Ireland aren’t much different than those in the USA.

Onetime Vatican official, now Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently delivered the following address:

The challenge of faith in Ireland can only be addressed by radical efforts of new evangelization. That new evangelization must however have its own Irish characteristics. The renewal of the Irish Church must be led from within the Irish Church. It must begin immediately. There is little time to waste.

Many people are disillusioned by the Church. It is very hard to underestimate how much the scandals regarding the sexual abuse of children and the manner in which it was dealt with by Church authorities has wounded the Church in Ireland. I am struck by the effect that these scandals had on young people who find it hard to reconcile what happened within the Church with the Christian message. The fact that thousands of children were abused within the Church of Jesus Christ in Ireland is a scar that the Church will bear within it for generations to come. There is no way in which what happened to be consigned out of the way into the archives. The lessons of what happened and how it happened are a vital key to our looking forward to and building the future with hope.

Inevitably the effect of these scandals on some has been an anger on the part of many and by some a complete rejection of the Church and even in some places it has resulted in appeals to remove the Catholic Church presence in society.

In other cases there are appeals for a sort of de-institutionalisation of the Church. There are those who would wish an Irish Church separate from Rome. There are those who would speak rightly of a strengthening of the role of lay people in the Irish Church, but really want a Church in which Office and Order would be radically emptied of their theological meaning. There are others who want reform, by reform by going back to the past. Renewal is required, but that renewal first of all requires conversion on the part of all and not just outward changes in structures.

Church authorities must learn to listen; but that listening is not to be equiperated simply with sounding-out public opinion. It requires above all listening intently and in common to the word of God and proclaiming that word and living it….

For too long the Church appeared in a role of moralisation and people failed to transmit the real depth of the Christian message which is about Jesus as a person who in his life and teaching reveals to us who God is. God is a God of love with whom we can in Jesus enter into a personal relationship, which then brings richness to the way we live of our lives.

On a deeper level, however, there is a certain ambiguity as to what “being Catholic” means in contemporary Irish society. There are multiple expressions of the claim: “I am still a Catholic, but…” Many people who no longer regularly practice will still come to Church on special occasions and on the great feasts and maintain some personal contact with the Church. In some cases people live out a sort of cultural Catholicism; in other cases what is called Catholicism is really a type of civil religion, a social spirituality without dogma, with blurred reference to a Jesus of one’s own creation.

Again, without becoming elitist, the Catholic Church in Ireland must be concerned about the lack of knowledge of basic elements of the Christian faith and of the nature of the Church among Catholics. This is a situation which should be a cause of concern as it can only increase from one generation to the next….

The Irish Church is extraordinarily weak in its knowledge and use of the scriptures. In other cases there remain among those who have drifted from Church life vestiges of faith and of affection for the Church. The importance of these signs should not be underestimated. But such vestiges will never flourish again without a genuine programme of new evangelization.

I can see that priests in Dublin have gone through a troubling period and at times they felt lack of support but they have never abandoned hope. There is a genuine enthusiasm for renewal and among priests, diocesan and religious. The results are already being seen. Attendance at Sunday Mass may be falling but enthusiasm is not missing….

Who are my successors in taking up today the challenge which I undertook as a future priest? Where will we find the leaders of the future Catholic Church in Ireland? There will be fewer priests and the place of the priest in society will be different. Those priests will have to be men of a strong and outreaching faith. They must understand their priestly role founded on their bond with the Eucharist around which the Church is constructed. They will have to be able to listen to but also talk to and with the community of believers which they serve. They must be able to break the bread of the Word of God.

The future of the Catholic Church needs such priests but leadership will not be the prerogative solely of the priest. The presence of the Church in the society of tomorrow will be lay lead, but lay lead by men and women who have a profound understanding of what faith in Jesus Christ entails. The future of the Church will not be about social commentary on political issues but about witness, witness to the impact that the message of Jesus Christ can make on lives and on the interaction of people. The “Communion with one another” which must be the mark of Christians must be one which reflects the meaning of communion with Christ and the communion within his Church.

The Church of tomorrow will not be created tomorrow or next week or next year. The Christian life is a life long task. Ecclesia semper reformanda est: the Church must constantly reform itself. Each Christian must constantly reform himself and herself. Reform and renewal involve humility and holiness; not the empty humility and holiness of performance, but a humility and holiness which can be tested and verified by the lenses of integrity, personal and institutional.

The Church of tomorrow will not be created tomorrow or next week or next year but I believe that slowly the Church in Ireland is turning the corner. I say “is turning the corner, not ”has turned the corner”. History teaches us that hope and challenge will always be present together in the Irish Church. We have to get the balance right. The crisis today is however much greater than in the past and we have only one chance to get it right. Burying our head in the sand or making a mistake of discernment, especially any return to triumphalism or self-satisfaction, could turn renewal back irreversibly.

A key marker on the Isle’s road to renewal comes later this year, as the 50th International Eucharistic Congress takes place in Dublin in mid-June. Last month, meanwhile, Marie Collins — the Dublin woman who’s become the Irish church’s most public survivor — became the first victim of clergy sex-abuse to address a Vatican forum, speaking at the weeklong global conference on rebuilding from the scandals held at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

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90th Anniversary of the Legion of Mary and a salute to Frank Duff, the century’s greatest Irishman.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Legion of Mary, a lay apostolate whose members – “legionaries” – actively commit themselves to the spiritual welfare of their neighbours. It was begun in Dublin in 1921 by a group of like-minded friends but it was a civil servant, Frank Duff, who formed it into its distinctive apostolic endeavour, reports the Catholic Herald.

To commemorate the anniversary Dr Finola Kennedy, a lecturer at University College Dublin, has written a new biography of Duff.

Four decades after that auspicious Dublin meeting, Duff’s prophetic understanding of the role of the laity received rightful recognition when he was given a standing ovation from the assembled bishops at the fourth and final session of the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

Duff was attending as an auditor and Dr Kennedy writes that it was an unforgettable moment: “The thanks of the Universal Church to the pioneer of the lay apostolate.”

She was asked twice by Fr Bede McGregor OP, postulator of Duff’s Cause, before she agreed to embark on the biography. “My husband warned me not to touch it,” she laughs. “He said it would wear me out.”

Read the article

More about the Legion of Mary

Homily in Memorial of Legion of Mary Founder, Frank Duff

Servant of God, Frank Duff

Homily given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on Nov. 20, at the 30th anniversary Mass in commemoration of the servant of God Frank Duff,  founder of the Legion of Mary:

Frank Duff died thirty years ago. This quiet, personally unassuming man, in quiet simple external circumstances in Dublin, on 7th September 1921 established a movement of prayer, Christian care and Marian spirituality. The Legion of Mary is a movement which has spread worldwide and has enriched the Church in many parts of the world, especially at moments in which the Church was experiencing difficulty and persecution.

We have come to thank God for the charism of Frank Duff: a charism recognized in a special way by the Second Vatican Council which he attended. We thank God for the spiritual enrichment that that charism has brought the Members of the Legion of Mary. We thank God for the Christian care and spiritual formation that millions have encountered through their contact with the Legion of Mary.

We remember especially the tenacity of this outwardly retiring man: tenacity in reaching out unashamedly to bring the message of Jesus to people in the varied circumstances of their livers, a tenacity driven not by human ambition but through a devotion to Mary who in every aspect of her life opened her heart to understand and to do the will of God.

The Church in Ireland is on a path of renewal. Renewal is an essential dimension of the Church’s life at any moment in history. The need for renewal of the Church in Ireland is however particularly urgent at this moment.

The scandals that have been revealed about aspects of the Church’s life have opened our eyes not just to the particular horrors of the abuse of children and of an inadequate response to them. They have opened our eyes to a much deeper crisis within the Church in Ireland.

Society in Ireland has changed. Religious culture in Ireland has changed. Religious practice has dropped at times in staggering proportions. There is disillusionment among many believers. Many have opted for or drifted into a more secularised vision of their life. Many have become indifferent and live as if God did not exist.

The significant role of the Church in serving Irish society, a role assumed in good faith and in a spirit of service which was undertaken with great dedication, is now being re-examined. What emerge are not just examples of evident failure and inadequacy alongside vision and commitment, but of a certain sense arrogance and power seeking, which has alienated many from the very message that such a presence in society was supposed to represent.

We face real crisis of vocations to the priesthood. Last Saturday here in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral I remembered at Mass 20 priests who had ministered in the Archdiocese and who had died in the previous twelve months. A further dozen or so priests retired from active ministry in the same period. And yet in the past year I ordained just one new priest for the diocese.

But the crisis of the Church is still a deeper one. It is not about the role of the Church in society. It is not about numbers. It is about the very nature of faith in Jesus Christ. It is about our understanding of the message of Jesus Christ. It is about faith in the God revealed in Jesus Christ and about the fundamental question: who is Jesus Christ?

We do not create our own identity for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to bring a message of love. But it was not a message just of being nice to each other. We have to ask: what is it that makes a Christian different in his or her interaction with others? What is it that should mark the Church of Jesus Christ as a people driven by the message of salvation revealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus?

The Church will never be reformed from outside. Historically it must be recognized that the recent shattering revelations about abuse would probably never have come to full light without outside intervention. Renewal and reform of the Church, however, will only come from within the Church, that is from within a community of man and women who listen to the word of God, who come together to pray, who celebrate the Eucharist and are called to share in the very life of Christ himself. The Church is communion. That is not the same as saying the Church is a community, or an association or an institution. The Church is formed by the Word of God and is lived by men and women who allow that word of God to transform them.

The Church is communion. The theme of the forthcoming International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin in 2012 is: Communion with Christ and with one another. It is however the communion of Christ which determines the shape of communion we form with each other. It is not a network of social interaction which determines what our communion with Jesus Christ is or ultimately who Jesus Christ is. The Church is formed through our communion with Christ.

The Gospel we have heard is a complex one. It is an interesting insight into the friendship of Jesus with this family and their practical service to help him in his mission. Jesus on his mission was not just surrounded by the twelve Apostles. There were many who accompanied him on his missionary journeys, there were men and women who served him in different ways yet who together imbibed his teaching and his witness.

Lazarus and his Sisters were close to Jesus in friendship. Friendship with Jesus for us means friendship in his service through understanding his word. Each of us can join with him in his mission and living out in his mission in the great and small tasks of life. Frank Duff could never have been described in terms of what today would be called “a celebrity”. He shunned publicity. He shunned superficiality. Yet his work has spread to so many parts of the world and has affected so many lives through the fruits of constant bonds of friendship with the Lord.

Renewal of the Church is not about media strategies or structural reform. In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus clearly indicates in the figure of Mary that what is vital – and what can never be substituted by any other merits – is the willingness to know Jesus and to enter into true friendship with him. That means allowing his word to capture our hearts; it means having the same mind that was within Christ Jesus himself. It is about knowing the Father through encountering Jesus.

Renewal in the Church in Ireland will be painful renewal. Jesus message was not that anything goes. There is something radical about the commitment which Jesus requires of us. “Let the dead bury their dead”, is not a message of compromise

There are many indications that the Church in Ireland has lost its way. Let me be very clear: sadly many people, of various ages, no longer really know Jesus Christ. That is not to say that they are not good people, caring people. It is not to say that the Church is only for a holy elite: the Church is a Church of sinners; each of us has to repent day after day; each of us compromises and each of us lets Jesus down and betrays Jesus.

The Church is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not a vague moralizing agency in society. It is not there to provide some sort of spiritual comfort zone for all comers. The Eucharist and the sacraments are celebrations of faith in Jesus Christ within a Christian community. Allowing the sacramental life of the Church become some just sort of vague social celebrations is allowing the true identity of the Church to become distorted.

I am not saying the active members of the Church community have been authentic followers of Jesus Christ. The Church has indeed been betrayed by its own active members. In the face of such failure the Church has at times given the impression of wishing to be all-embracing and all-forgiving in a simplistic manner.

Where do we go on the path of renewal? Can we be happy to celebrate first communion services which put people into debt for thousands of Euro for empty external expenses, while neither the children nor their parents have been led to a true understanding of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic community which is the Church? Can we be satisfied when confirmation is looked on by many as a graduation out of Church life? In not addressing such issues we are not just deceiving ourselves but we are damaging the integrity of the message of Jesus.

The Church is not a holy elite. It is made up today as always by the humble of heart. Many people with little education have a deeper insight into the message of Jesus Christ than learned theologians or bishops. But in today’s society where the message of Jesus is less and less accessible, the Church must become a place where formation in the Word of God resounds in a way that it has not done so in the Irish Church for generations.


I would like to thank the Legion of Mary in the Archdiocese of Dublin for their generous participation in our diocesan project this year of making the word of God in the Gospel of Saint Luke available to families. I would like to thank the Legion of Mary nationwide for their renewed reflection on the Word of God and its application to daily life. I would like to thank you for your commitment to prayer and to the Eucharist where Jesus is present in our hearts.

I am very happy today to see such a large representation of priests present at our ceremony today. I would like to thank the priests who act as spiritual directors to the Legion of Mary and who provide formation for the spiritual life of the members, helping them day by day to rediscover and to recommit themselves top the charism of the movement. The Legion of Mary is fundamentally a lay movement but the place of the priestly ministry is aloe essential to it. I particularly wish to thank those priests who have so many demands on their time and yet who are so dedicate to the work with the Legion of Mary.

Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in 1921 at a critical moment in Irish history. It was a time of political uncertainty which eventually would explode into civil war. It was a time in which this city was marked by very harsh poverty and also of widespread moral impoverishment. Frank Duff was a man who in the face of a major social challenge did something. He did not write a Letter to the Editor. He gathered like-minded men and women around him into a movement of spiritual renewal, prayer and Christian service. He was not discouraged either by the size of the challenge or by the paucity of his means. He was a man of the Church – misunderstood by many in the Church, including Archbishops of Dublin. Like Mary, his model, he never flinched. Frank Duff pondered the Word of God day by day and through him then the Lord worked great things.