Diarmuid Martin: 'Long way to go'

Catholic archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin yesterday accused some priests in his diocese of attempting to block the increased involvement of lay people by stopping the development of parish pastoral councils.

In a significant criticism of practices in some Dublin parishes, Martin told worshippers at the Pro Cathedral that while the archdiocese was "happy to see" a growing commitment among lay men and women, there was still a "long way to go."

"We have excellent parish pastoral councils which have shown the way forward in enriching ministry. We also have pastoral councils which have not yet grown in their task and indeed in a small number of cases pastoral councils which may not have been allowed to grow because of their priest," he said.

"Let me say this: the specific authority of a priest is abused if he does not welcome and foster full participation of lay men and women in the activity of his parish."

Martin, who was speaking at the ordination of a new priest and the commissioning of 10 new lay parish pastoral workers, said the priesthood is "never something which brings with it status, or privilege, or caste in a worldly sense."

He added that one of the readings at yesterday's ceremony had indicated the style of interaction which should exist between priests and lay people.

"Welcome each other... without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others," he said, quoting from the reading.

Elsewhere in his homily, Martin also expressed concern that the Dublin archdiocese was only ordaining one new priest this year.

"The church needs priests," he said. "The number of priests in the diocese is going down, our priests are getting older, and yet there is more work than ever to be done."