Fr Vincent Twomey on the future of the Church in Ireland

Fr Vincent Twomey, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, addressed a packed University Church on Wednesday night. The event was co-hosted by The Iona Institute and the Notre Dame-Newman Centre for Faith and Reason.

In his wide-ranging address, Fr Twomey surveyed the situation of the Church in Ireland, discussing in particular the absence of an authentic sense of God in our lives, which he believes is at the root of the Church’s troubles, and of society’s more generally.

Addressing the scandals, he called for a ‘Day of Reparation’ to be held each year on the First Friday in Lent.

On that day, he said, “the clergy (Religious as well as secular) would undertake a day of fasting and prayer, and go to confession, culminating in an evening Prayer Service of Reparation and a Celebration of Reconciliation in every Cathedral in the country”.

But he also remarked that this needs to be balanced by “more festive celebrations of the gift of God among us, as well as celebrating the lives of men and women of faith, who down to our own day devoted their lives to education and the care of the sick both at home and abroad”.

He went on: “The past achievements of Irish Christianity, above all, but not only, the saints, have to be recognised as sources of pride and inspiration.[1] Pilgrimages on foot to the holy wells and other sacred sites, such as Clonmacnoise and Clonfert need greater attention, especially for the youth. We also need to celebrate the faith of our fathers as it found expression is the spirituality of former generations. we need to honour the astonishing artistic and intellectual achievements of the past[2] – and future generations need to know and appreciate them. And the annual national Culture Night needs to be embraced by the Church, for example by reminding our contemporaries of the wonders of 19th/20thcentury Catholic architecture and sacred music.”

Fr Twomey’s talk can be read in full here.

[1] The hierarchical Church must give greater attention to the beatification of these saints, such as some 250 martyrs of the 16th and 17th century, the founders of the great Religious Congregations, the missionaries, lay and clerical, who gave their lives to bringing hope into the lives of millions throughout the world.

[2] See, for example, Thomas Finan, “Hiberno-Latin Christian Literature: Context and Beginnings” and “The Trinity in Early Irish Christian Writings” in his Collected Writings (Dublin, 2019), 223-73.