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Homily Notes and Message of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop

Homily Notes and Message of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop

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Published by: witheloggia on Dec 25, 2009
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Homily notes and Message of Most Rev. Diarmuid MartinArchbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland----------------Pro-Cathedral, 24
December 2008It would be foolish for me to say that this is for me the happiest Christmas that I haveexperienced in my life or to say that this is the happiest Christmas for many in thisArchdiocese of Dublin.It has been a painful year for the diocese as it undergoes the tough process of looking ata period of its recent past. The diocese failed its most vulnerable members. TheArchdiocese failed to recognise what was to be done. A false sense of protection of theChurch resulted at times in decisions being made and at other times in decisions notbeing made which resulted in more children being abused. The interests of the ordainedwere given priority over the needs of the baptised.It has been a painful year. But the Church today may well be a better and safer placethan was the Church of twenty five years ago when all looked well but where deepshadows were kept burried.The Church in Dublin is called to conversion and to renewal. The origins of the pastfailings spring in a special way from a false understanding of the Church. They springfrom a false understanding of the place of the priest in the Church and from a totallyimpoverished understanding of the Church as a community of the baptised.Paradoxically, such a false understanding of the place of the ordained priesthood in theChurch has damaged priests. Many survivors of abuse and their families not only had abetter understanding of the nature of abuse and its disastrous effects than did theexperts of the Church and science. They also had a better understanding of the role andimportance of the priest and the vocation of priests to be Christlike in a special way.Survivors turned to a priest sincerely and with idealism and they were met by betrayal of priesthood through abuse or distortion of the priesthood though lack of the care they hada right to receive.There are great priests in this diocese. They too feel betrayed. Many feel that I havenot defended them enough and not supported them adequately at this moment. If Ihave failed them, from this Mother Church of the Archdiocese I ask their pardon. Irecognise their dedication and I am sure that the people of the diocese do too.Similarly from this Mother Church of the Archdiocese I repeat my words to survivors: “nowords of apology will ever be enough for the hurt caused and the way your hurt wasbrushed aside”.How does the Church renew itself? Renewal must begin from honestly and brutallyrecognising what happened in the past. There can be no glossing over the past.Renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past. Criminal behaviour mustbe investigated and pursued. Gross failures in management must be remedied in atransparent way. Current practice must be effectively monitored. Anachronisms leftover from past history must be replaced.
But there must be a Church answer to Church problems. What are the Church’smechanisms of renewal? They must begin by turning again to the word of God. Godreveals himself in Jesus as the Word, the concrete expression of who God is. That isthe revelation and the message of Christmas. The Jesus whom we recognise andcelebrate and ponder in mystery this evening indicates the way towards renewal. Hisbirth to the Virgin Mary was an act of God alone, not due to any human power except thehumble acceptance by Mary of God’s design.Mary knew, pondered on and reflected on the word of God revealed in the scriptures.Her Magnificat is a hymn to what the power of God can do to those who accept his wordin lowliness. The power of God can never be revealed through arrogance or power.The Church in Ireland if it wants to renew itself must become a Church in which the wordof God is day by day pondered on, in the spirit of revelation itself. We cannot findcommunion with God only though human experience. God transcends our experiencebut not in the sense in which the Gods of the ancient pagans became a distant fearfulGod’s to be found in the harshness and brute force of nature. The Christian God is aGod who is other, but who comes towards us and meets us in a way that is alwayssurprising, just as we celebrate here this evening of a God who reveals himself surprisingly in the human powerlessness of an infant. The Christmas story is not a fairytale. It is a fundamental lesson about who God is and about what humanity is.Jesus is the Word of God. God reveals himself in communication. God comes out tomeet us and invites us to respond in communication, in prayer. Prayer is a second keyto renewal. The Church is not just a club of the like-minded. It is not a movement for social reform. It is a community of believers who day after day place themselves humblybefore God, recognising his otherness and recognising that the values of our lives mustbe values that we do not create on our own. Prayer ensures and guarantees that our communication is with God and not with our own interests or desires or personal needs.The Church’s renewal must pass along the path of rejection of attachment to humanpower. This is not to say that the Church should vanish from the public square. If theChurch follows the path of renewal through abandonment to the demands of God asrevealed in Jesus Christ then – but only then - will the Church be strong and will theChurch renew itself and allow the message of Jesus, who reveals God’s love, to breakinto society as a true force for good. As always that message will surprise us and willsurprise society. Throughout human history God’s people have been unfaithful, butGod’s fidelity to his people has remained and is renewed generation after generation.In terms of the culture of the day, the humble birth of Jesus did not augur well for a greatfuture. Indeed, Jesus’ life itself was contrary to the cultural mores and values of histime. His entire life was considered by many to be a failure, yet the Spirit was with himand was and is with the community of his followers who throughout the generationsfollowed his path of death to self in order to rise authentically to self. Self is realisedthrough selflessness,This has not been a good year for the Church. But even saying that can be a bowing toa false reading of reality or even worse a form of self-pity and not allowing the force of renewal which comes from the Spirit of Jesus to change and renew us today as theSpirit has done and will do at any time in the history of the Church.Christmas transforms! It visibly transforms by bringing the best out of us, through theability to mend broken relationships, to be caring, to see how simplicity can produce a

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