The Church in Ireland has become “too timid in bringing its liberating voice to the 'demons' of Irish society,” Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has said.
In a homily in the Pro Cathedral on Sunday, Archbishop Martin said that the Church “should be active and present in society, drawing attention to suffering and repression of any kind and being alongside those who suffer”.
He added: “The Church in Ireland today has perhaps again become too timid in bringing its liberating voice to the “demons” of Irish society. Scandals within the Church and perhaps a lack of real faith have made us all too timid in bringing the voice of Jesus and his Church to the basic issues of Irish society.
“We are tempted to succumb to the widespread opinion that Christianity is really something private and personal for our own devotion and inspiration and not something that has its relevance in the public square.”
Christian belief “has and will always have its contribution to bring to the formation of society,” Archbishop Martin said.
He added: “It is not that Christians want to impose their views on others. It is more a challenging question for believers to find ways of presenting and witnessing to the Christian vision in terms which can win over and be respected by those alongside whom we work.
“Each of us is called to ensure that our being a Christian somehow brings an added quality to the way we live and to the contribution we bring to society, through how we live our Christian lives in family, in community and in society and indeed into the complex world of science and economics, of politics and communication.
The Christian presence in society would “in many ways be different to that we have seen and practiced in the past,” he continued.
But he said: “We must have no doubt however about the fact that the message of Jesus Christ has relevance in our society today. Just think of those instructions which Jesus gave to his apostles about what they need for their missionary journey.
“They recall all of us, for example, to reflect on what is essential for fulfilment in life. The vision they present is the very opposite to a consumerist driven rushing for the non-essential and the almost divinisation of the superfluous and the transient in life, which in the long term leads to emptiness.
“The Church must not only be the community of those who believe in the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ but the Christian must spread that message of Jesus in such a way that it enables individuals and the community to be freed from those things in our culture which entrap and burden them. Christianity is a faith that frees rather than entraps.
“The Christian must be a free man or a free women, free not to do whatever we want, but free through living a life of goodness. It is goodness and love and truth which challenge the forces of evil or any form of personal narrowness or introversion. Love frees, while introversion eventually leads to narcissism of self-centredness.”
Christianity, he said, could never be individualistic. While Christianity “certainly stresses the inalienable dignity of each human person created in the image of God” this was not “the same thing as individualism”.
“Jesus sends his disciples out two by two. This is not for simple companionship. It is to remind them in their preaching that they are not preaching themselves or their own doctrine, as many of the wandering preachers at the time of Jesus would have done,” he said.