The Archbishop of Armagh says there is a “crying need for atonement” and “healing” in the wake of the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
The Primate of All Ireland was talking at Saint Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, where he is chancellor.
He said: “There is a longing to connect with the energy and gifts of our young people and a call to discover fresh models of responsibility and leadership in the Church which will facilitate the role of women, as well as men, and help reach out to those who in recent decades have left the Church, or who feel excluded, forgotten or ignored.
“There is a crying need for atonement, inner healing and hope in the aftermath of the abuse scandals.”
Speaking to the graduating class, he reflected on his own time at university: “Church wise, so much has changed in this last 35 years. I could never have imagined, leaving Maynooth, 35 years ago, the seismic changes that were to take place - the significant decline in regular sacramental practice; the fall-off in vocations to the priesthood and religious life; the shocking revelations of abuse in the Church.
“I sometimes wonder why it is that, when we were studying theology here in the 1980s, we didn’t anticipate what was about to happen in the Church - perhaps we should have; was it because, in our studying and reading of Theology and Philosophy, we didn’t engage enough in open discussion and dialogue, or really grapple with the big questions of the day for the Church and its mission?”
He implored the new graduates to “become actively involved in Synodal conversations, and to “help in creating a vision for the next chapter in the life of the Church in Ireland.”