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The Christian in the Public Square

Michael Lyttleton Memorial Lecture


Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin R.T.E. Radio Centre, 2nd December 2004

!t is of supreme importance, especiall" in a pluralistic societ", to #or$ out a proper vision of the relationship bet#een the political communit" and the Church, and to distin%uish clearl" bet#een the activities of Christians, actin% individuall" or collectivel" in their o#n names as citi&ens %uided b" the dictates of Christian conscience, and their activities alon% #ith their pastors in the name of the Church . These are #ords of the 'astoral Constitution (audium et )pes of the )econd *atican Council concernin% the relationship bet#een the political communit" and the Church. ! #ant to reflect on the role and the contribution of the Christian to the formation of political thou%ht and polic" #ithin the public s+uare of a modern, d"namic pluralist societ". ! have addressed the +uestion mainl" from a Christian perspective and #ith e,amples especiall" from m" o#n tradition in Christianit". Most of #hat of #hat ! have to sa", ! am sure, applies to the role and place of the other reli%ious voices #hich toda" full" belon% to our pluralist !reland. The first thin% to note is that pluralist does not mean secular. The public s+uare in that space of dialo%ue on public issues #here different vie#points are aired and debated in a process of tolerance and respect and #here decisions come to be made #hich respect differin% opinions. A pluralist societ" #ill not re+uest people to leave their reli%ious values at home or on the street corner before the" enter into the debates of the public s+uare. Reli%ious e,pression has its place in such a pluralist public s+uare, -ust as an" other e,pression. !t does not see$ a privile%ed place. it has ever" ri%ht to a prominent place. (audium et )pes indicates t#o reasons #h" this is so. /irstl" it notes that0 The Church bein% founded on in the love of the Redeemer contributes to the spread of -ustice and charit" amon% nations and #ithin the border of nations themselves . These truths of the (ospel are presented in Church teachin% but also thorou%h the life #itness of its members. The second reason %iven b" (audium et )pes is that our hori&ons are not bounded onl" b" the temporar" order , and that even #hile livin% on the level of human histor" #e preserve the inte%rit" of our eternal destin" . There are fe# #ho #ould find e,ception #ith the first affirmation. Most people #ould reco%nise that the Christian messa%e contains man" elements #hich have influenced and have come to form part of the common herita%e of 1estern civili&ation. Most #ould reco%nise the #itness and the leadership of persons, men and #omen, #ho have been inspired in their social and political commitment b" those principles of -ustice, love and truth #hich are essential for a health" societ" and #hich are also those values throu%h #hich #e anticipate in the here and no# the $in%dom of (od. Reli%ious conviction can be a po#erful motivatin% force for %ood. ! can remember at the be%innin% of m" o#n international e,perience, ! #as sli%htl" surprised to find that a ver" lar%e number of the then heads of 23 a%encies #ere Roman Catholics. As ! came to $no# the persons ! found that this #as not in an" #a" due to some sort of corporate lobb"in%, but because these men and #omen, as "oun% professionals, had ac+uired a passionate inspiration for the international precisel" in the teachin% of the )econd *atican Council and in (audium et )pes in particular, #hich had driven and motivated them ri%ht throu%hout their international careers. Reli%ious conviction #as for them a po#erful motivation for service to the international communit". 3ot ever"one #ill a%ree #ith the second reason proposed, namel" that concernin% an eternal destin". This, man" #ould ob-ect, is the t"pe of reli%ious concept #hich belon%s entirel" to the private sphere of the individual believer. /irst of all let it be repeated that there is no #a" in #hich the Christian believer can or should impose his specificall" reli%ious beliefs on an" other in societ". 4ut it #ould also be unacceptable should valid insi%hts #hich sprin% from reli%ious concepts and lan%ua%e be e,cluded from the public s+uare -ust because the" are reli%ious in ori%in. Reli%ious lan%ua%e can in fact brin% an ori%inal contribution to the values #hich should inspire our societ", especiall" in a #orld #here so often ever"thin% is considered +uantifiable and mar$etable. ! recall a fascinatin% address b" 'resident *aclav 5avel at the Annual Meetin%s of the 1orld 4an$ and the !nternational Monetar" /und #hich #ere held in 'ra%ue in the "ear 2000. 5e referred to the s$"line of 'ra%ue #ith its man" Church spires and he as$ed

the +uestion #h" did someone in lon% b"%one times en%a%e in the construction of such costl" edifices #hich appear to be of so little use b" toda"6s standards . 7ne possible e,planation , he replied, is that there #ere periods in histor" #hen material %ain #as not the hi%hest value in human life and #hen human$ind $ne# that there #ere m"steries the" #ould never understand and before #hich the" could onl" stand in humble ama&ement and perhaps pro-ect that ama&ement into structures #hose spires point up#ards. 2p#ards in order that the" mi%ht be seen from far and #ide. 2p#ards to that #hich is be"ond our si%ht, that #hich b" its mere silent e,istence appears to preclude for humanit" an" ri%ht to treat the #orld as an endless source of short term profit and #hich calls for solidarit" #ith all those #ho d#ell under its m"sterious vault . 'resident 5avel had opened his address referrin% to the current %lobal civili&ation, #hich he described as the ever first civili&ation #hich is basicall" atheistic, not#ithstandin% ho# man" billions. profess the various e,istin% reli%ions . This means he noted that the underl"in% values of this civili&ation do not relate to eternit", to the infinite and to the absolute. !n man" decision8ma$in% centres #e therefore observe a decline of re%ard for that #hich #ill come after us and for a trul" common interest . 4elief in (od, in transcendence, should not close the person to the realities of the #orld #hich #e all share as our home, but can lead the believer and others to rise above the contin%ent and the politicall" opportune to see$ values that are endurin%. Reli%ious e,pressions contain lessons #hich are relevant to political thou%ht and to the elaboration of policies. These insi%hts can be e,tremel" profound and at the same time have practical implications. The famous in-unction of 9esus, for e,ample, to render to Caesar the thin%s that are Caesar6s and to (od the thin%s that are (od6s , clearl" stresses the le%itimac" of political authorit", and the distinction bet#een reli%ion and political po#er. 4ut it is also an implicit re-ection of an" attempt to ma$e political authorit" divine or absolute. 9esus teachin% re-ects despotic use of po#er and an" renderin% of political interests above other concerns. The human person is %reater than politics or economics. !n his o#n life 9esus made it clear he #as ma$in% no claim to be a political messiah, clearl" distancin% himself totall" from the forms in #hich political po#er #as e,ercised in his time. 7nce a%ain he re-ects an" form of despotic po#er and notes that leaders #ho are his follo#ers must not consider themselves benefactors, but rather be the servants of all. :et me come bac$ to the )econd *atican Council. !t is interestin% first of all to note that fort" "ears a%o the Council #as alread" ver" much at home #ith the concept of a pluralist societ". 4ut it sa# the Church not as an outside observer but much more as a true pla"er in the construction of the underl"in% values of pluralism. !t sa# that the Church has a contribution to brin% #ithin a pluralist societ" and a contribution #hich it should not be timid in brin%in%. Christians have an obli%ation to be present in the #orld in #hich the" live. The Christian cannot esche# the public s+uare. (audium et )pes notes that it #ould be a mista$e to thin$ that because #e have here no lastin% cit", but see$ the cit" #hich is to come, #e are entitled to evade our earthl" responsibilities. !t stresses unambi%uousl" that the Christian #ho shir$s his temporal duties, shir$s his duties to#ards his nei%hbours, ne%lects (od himself and endan%ers his eternal salvation ;<4=>. The Christian, at one and the same time a believer and citi&en, has onl" a sin%le conscience, a Christian conscience and it is b" this the he or she must be %uided continuall" in both the secular and reli%ious domains. 1hat, then, are the terms in #hich the Christian should be en%a%ed in the realities of the public s+uare in the conte,t of toda"? 7bviousl" there can be no coercion or imposition of reli%ious belief. This flo#s from the ver" definition of Reli%ious /reedom #hich comes once a%ain from the )econd *atican Council. There it is stressed that free en+uir", #ith the help of instruction, communication and dialo%ue are the onl" path to faith and that it is onl" b" personal assent that #e must adhere to the truth that #e have discovered . The presence of the Christian in the pluralist public s+uare #ill be a presence based on dialo%ue #ith all persons of %ood #ill #ho desire to establish a fair and -ust societ". 5uman ri%hts discourse can be a useful instrument in this dialo%ue. !t can offer a brid%e to#ards reflection #hich crosses cultural bac$%rounds and can provide a frame#or$ of lan%ua%e that en%a%es all. A Church contribution must also be visionar". !t is no coincidence that much of biblical lan%ua%e is poetic and s"mbolic, helpin% people to reach be"ond themselves, and settin% out rich ideals for human$ind to achieve. 4ut the Christian messa%e indicates that such ideals can be achieved. !n this sense charit" %oes be"ond -ustice, if charit" is understood in its biblical sense. Charit" is not do8 %oodism , but a %enuine disinterested love of the other, reflectin% (od6s %ratuitous love for us. This can be the $e" to %oin%

be"ond settin% out human ri%hts, and movin% to#ards self %ivin%, in order to ensure that the other can full" en-o" his or her ri%hts and humanit" to the full. )o often in histor" the %reat defenders of human ri%hts did so renouncin% their ri%hts. 4ut it ta$es t#o to dialo%ue. Those #ho do not share reli%ious faith can ri%htl" be as$ed to reco%nise that the life of the man, 9esus of 3a&areth, #ho #as full" divine but also full" human, can offer insi%hts into the truth about humanit". :i$e#ise the reli%ious belief that all human bein%s are created in the ima%e and li$eness of (od can open a path in #hich the truths revealed b" 9esus can resonate in all people of %ood #ill. The believer, on his or her part, must be open to truth #hatever its source and #hoever brin%s it to the fore. (od is active in the Church, but also in the #orld. The believer #ill find insi%hts into the truth in the most une,pected +uarters and must have the honest" to admit that. This re+uires %ifts of discernment and the abilit" to see #hat is %ood and #hat is problematic #ithin a situation of rapid cultural evolution and uncertaint" about values. ! remember the advice %iven to me b" 'ope 9ohn 'aul !! #hen ! attended the various 2nited 3ations !nternational Conferences on social issues in the @AA06s, #here as one can ima%ine there #ere man" controversial issues for a Dele%ation of the 5ol" )ee. The 'ope said that the 5ol" )ee Dele%ation should endorse ever"thin% that is positive in the vision #hich #as emer%in% #ithin the consensus of )tates, and re-ect decisivel" #hat it felt #as not for the lon% term %ood, but it must do both . That both is ver" importantB 7n the one hand, it is all too eas" to %o alon% uncriticall" #ith cultural evolution. 7n the other, it is eas" to denounce and run. 1hat is not eas" is to have honest, critical en%a%ement. 4ut that is the role of the Church. !t ma" not ma$e "ou popular al#a"s, but people #ill al#a"s respect the one #ho %enuinel" poses fundamental +uestions. There is ho#ever a stran%e dichotom" in #hich modern societ" #elcomes the contribution of reli%ious insi%hts #hen the" are popular, for e,ample on +uestions of social -ustice, and re-ects even the ri%ht to spea$ on other areas, such as on se,ual or con-u%al moralit", not observin% that the positions of the Church -ustice or on se,ual ethics mi%ht be founded on the same vision of the di%nit" of the human person, #ithout an" compromise #ith popular opinion. ! have loo$ed at a little of the terms #ithin #hich ! see the en%a%ement of the Christian in the public s+uare. 1hat are the core values #hich mi%ht inspire such dialo%ue? The concept of transcendence, as ! said, offers an important contribution to reflection that is rooted in somethin% more than the transient or in ideolo%" or in sin%le issue trends. Catholic social reflection stresses that the #orld is not our o#n, but a %ift #e have received in trust. This leads to a vision #hich attempts to maintain a balance bet#een three fundamental %oods, in the li%ht of (od6s desi%n for his creation0 the di%nit" of each individual, the unit" of the human famil" and the inte%rit" of creation. !t is a balance bet#een the ri%hts and the responsibilities of persons, #hich protects individuals but avoids individualism. !t is a balance #hich stresses common responsibilit", but #hich re-ects collectivism. !t is a balance #hich respects human autonom" but also #hat 'ope 9ohn 'aul calls those prior ri%hts #hich creation itself possesses . :et me loo$ at each of those three fundamental %oods or principles individuall". Ever" human person possesses uni+ue di%nit", basic ri%hts and personal capacit". The Christian must be an advocate in the public s+uare for the most inclusive vision of the human person. The Christian should be an advocate for human ri%hts but also for a vision of -ustice in the economic order #hich #ill enable those human ri%hts to flourish and for the person to full" realise his or her capacities. The Christian #ill be in the public s+uare as an advocate but also as an activist, personall" buildin% up that carin% environment #hich puts flesh and blood on policies. :i$e#ise the Christian #ill be a proponent of an inclusive ethic of life, embracin% the ri%hts of the unborn, to the ri%hts of the elderl" and the #ea$, as #ell as the social and economic ri%hts #hich enhance people in their capacities in #hatever situation of their lives. /or man" the ma-or disa%reement #ith Church positions #ill fall #ithin the area of marria%e and the famil" and ho# the individual believer or the Christian in public life is called to protect the institution of marria%e and famil" life and fundamental ri%hts #ithin marria%e. The famil", based on the mutual and e,clusive love of husband and #ife, constitutes a value #hich is uni+ue and irreplaceable for the communit". The )tate and societ" have obli%ations to protect the famil" and to ensure that families have the necessar" support to carr" out that role. Church teachin% stresses that marria%e is e,clusivel" bet#een a man and a #oman, because this is part of the basic structure of the complementarit" of the se,es, somethin% rooted in creation, and not simpl" a social or cultural construct.

!t ma", in certain circumstances, be in the public interest to provide le%al protection to the social, fiscal and inheritance entitlements of persons #ho support carin% relationships #hich %enerate dependenc", provided al#a"s that these relationships are reco%nised as bein% +ualitativel" different from marria%e and that their acceptance does not dilute the uni+ueness of marria%e. The second principle ! mentioned b" the unit" of the human famil". ! have seen in m" o#n e,perience ho# Christian social thou%ht can present concrete challen%es to the #a" #e construct our modern %lobal communit", #ith all its comple,ities. Ta$e for e,ample the balance bet#een mar$et and the need to protect basic human needs. 'ope 9ohn 'aul !! in his Enc"clical Centesimus Annus stressed the importance of the mar$et. 5e notes the free mar$et is the most effective instrument for utili&in% resources and respondin% to needs. 4ut this is true onl" for those needs. and resources #hich are mar$etable ;<=4>. The 'ope recalls that there are collective and +ualitative needs #hich cannot be satisfied b" mar$et mechanisms. There are important human needs #hich escape the mar$et6s lo%ic. There are %oods #hich b" their ver" nature cannot and must not be bou%ht or sold ;<40>. The 'ope notes there is a strict dut" of -ustice and truth not to allo# fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied and not to allo# those #ho are burdened b" such needs to perish ;<=4>. This re+uires a stron% commitment for solidarit" #ithin both the local and the %lobal communit". The biblical teachin% is that #hen (od created the %oods of this #orld he created them for the benefit of all. The Church has al#a"s tau%ht respect for private propert" but it has never elevated it to the ran$ of an absolute principle. Traditionall" this principle of the universal purpose of the %ifts of creation #as applied to land and natural resources. !n toda"6s $no#led%e8based econom" this principle must be applied also to the fruits of human %enius and to intellectual propert". The 'ope has recalled that intellectual propert" is sub-ect to that same social mort%a%e as an" other form of private propert". This has important implications in the dialo%ue around intellectual propert" ri%hts and health needs in the current 5!*CA!D) pandemic. Medical research is costl", but its primar" purpose is not -ust profit, but service to health #here it is most needed and to the human communit". The same ethical principle of the universal purpose of the %oods of creation mi%ht be applied to e+uitable access to the decision ma$in% processes #hich concern the future of the communit" of nations. )o man" international norms are lopsided in favour of po#erful interests, #ith the result that the human famil" becomes a d"sfunctional famil". The credibilit" of the international s"stem #ill depend on its abilit" to push throu%h reforms of its o#n institutions as #ell as the sense of responsibilit" #hich all parties are called to use #ithin those institutions. 1e #ill see ho# the reform proposals #hich have been presented in these da"s for the 2.3. s"stem #ill be received. !n a #orld dominated b" economic and utilitarian values it is useful to recall the #ords of 'ope 9ohn 'aul0 The econom" is onl" one aspect and one dimension of the #hole of human activit" ;CA, <=A>. 1hat $inds of concerns and priorities can best help ensure that mar$et8driven economic %ro#th can be accompanied b" e+uit" and b" e,plicit concern for those #ho are mar%inali&ed? 1hat principles and inspiration can the Church offer? 'overt" is not simpl" a +uestion of lac$ of economic resources or lac$ of access to certain services. 'overt" is primaril" the inabilit" of people to realise their (od8%iven potential. /i%htin% povert" means that #e invest in human capacit", that #e enable people to be the people that (od #ishes them to be. This means that #e re-oice #henever people can realise their capacities, e+ual in di%nit" to us. !t means that #e personall" feel hurt #hen there are others in our societ" #ho are unable 8 for #hatever the reason 8 to have the same opportunit" to full" realise themselves as #e are. The fundamental principle of an" polic" on social advancement is toda" therefore that of enhancin% human capacit". 'eople are not the ob-ects of social and economic polic". The" are its sub-ects because sub-ectivit" is of the essence of bein% human. The person livin% in povert" or in situations of disadvanta%e must be loo$ed on as a brother or sister, havin% the same di%nit" and the same fundamental ri%hts as ! have. 'eople livin% in povert" sho# immense creativit" and in%enuit" simpl" throu%h survivin%. The" #ant to be able to place their human talents at the service of their o#n future and that of their families. The" #ant above all a voice. The" #ant to be the sub-ects of their o#n future and that of their communities. 1herever he #ent, 9esus #ho healed people and healin% meant brin%in% people bac$ in the mainstream of life. :i$e#ise, 9esus freed those #ho #ere possessed of evil spirits. That means he freed the human spirit from those factors #hich imprisoned it. That is also the challen%e of a Christian presence in toda"6s #orld, throu%h an education #hich enhances the person, "oun% and old. A true sense of solidarit" creates communit" and communit" is the best #a" to fi%ht e,clusion, as #ell as the resentment #hich can feed criminalit" and violence. !f ! #ere to identif" one sin%le feature of chan%e in !rish societ" #hich distressed me most on m"

return to Dublin after livin% abroad for over thirt" "ears, it is the ne# violence in our societies. ! am shoc$ed b" the callous violence of criminal %an%s, the tra%ic violence into #hich too man" "oun% people are dra#n throu%h a culture of alcohol and dru%s, of $nives and #eapons. Even the elderl" have become eas" pre" for this violence. The final principle #hich ! noted #as the inte%rit" of creation. The biblical teachin% is that #e have been %iven this cosmos in trust, to care for its o#n innate harmon". 5ere is one area #here Christians #ere challen%ed to see$ a deeper understandin% of their o#n biblical teachin% b" a movement of the times, b" the environmental movement. The concept of the inte%rit" of all creation is one #hich see$s to identif" the place of the human$ind #ithin in a creation #hich offers us nurture but is also the onl" home for us and for the %enerations to come. ! tend to use the term cosmos rather than planet, because there are alread" areas #here #e are e,portin% our problems and our #a" of resolvin% them, as #ell as economic ambitions, be"ond our planet into that cosmos about #hich #e still have so much to learn. There is need to update rapidl" our international norms about #eapons and #eapons s"stems in space. 1e need to be a#are of the hu%e economic interests surroundin% the cultivation of plants and species in space for commercial %ain. ! have attempted to %ive some e,amples from Catholic social reflection #hich sho# ho# principles of reli%ious ori%in can effectivel" be applied to comple, situations of the modern pluralist #orld Christianit" and Catholicism are also pluralist. The *atican Council notes that it can easil" occur that Christians, as believers and citi&ens, mi%ht come to different le%itimate conclusions about the best #a" to address issues in societ". ! #as struc$ to hear someone recentl" tal$ of substitutin% a %lobal perspective for a narro# catholic one B 4ut et"molo%icall" Catholic and %lobal mean much the same thin%B 1e have to rediscover the pluralism that e,ists #ithin Catholicism, and #hich is at the root of the term Catholic. There is a verit" of talents, offices and charisms in the Church. The Church has to realise Catholicit" more full" #ithin its o#n structures. The Church is not -ust the 4ishops. The 4ishop #ho feels he can do and $no# ever"thin% himself has a false notion of the Church. 4ut the temptation is thereB As one commentator said Catholics have the bad habit of thin$in% of the Church as the hierarch". This is a false e+uation theolo%icall" and a fatal e+uation politicall". !f the Catholic voice is merel" the voice of the hierarch" 8 as elo+uent and hol" as the" mi%ht be 8 the %ame is up. !f the hierarch" is neither elo+uent nor hol" the %ame #ill not even %et started . This means movin% a#a" from a clericalist vision of the Church to a more participative one. :eadership #ill have to ta$e on the characteristic of listenin% to #hich ! have referred on man" occasions since ! became Archbishop. ! cannot %uarantee that ! have al#a"s been a %ood listener. ! am naturall" a doer and indeed someone impatient to see thin%s done. 4ut #here ! $no# that ! have listened, this has invariabl" been of %reat value to me and to the +ualit" of the decisions ! have had to ta$e. The dialo%ue #ill be t#o #a". The 4ishop can create a forum to support la" people in their reflection on the implications of the (ospel for the personal and professional lives. The bishop #ill also #elcome the competence of the professional #ithin the decision8ma$in% structures of the Church itself. ! am more than happ" to entrust the financial administration and man" other dimension of administration of m" diocese to the hands of competent la" persons. ! am pushin% for the establishment of parish structures to facilitate a more effective presence of la" people in the evan%eli&in% #or$ of the Church. ! have repeated on man" occasions that ! have been ver" fortunate to have at m" disposal in Dublin a professional child protection service #hich offers me competent advice and has helped to put into place necessar" child protection measures and initiate trainin% pro%rammes for those #ho #or$, cler%" and lait", #ith children and "oun% people. ! find that it is a si%n of the competence of m" advisors and co8 #or$ers that the" are happ" to have their #or$ audited and verified b" a further independent outside professional. 4ishops and priests must sho# that the" are capable of #or$in% to%ether #ith, and are not threatened b", the professional, especiall" in such a crucial area as child protection. 4ut it #ould be #ron% to thin$ that the presence of the Church in the public sphere #as onl" in the social -ustice and service area, or in the area of problems #hich arise for the Church. The principal presence of the Church is that of presentin% its reli%ious messa%e, a messa%e of faith, to all societ", as a messa%e #hich %enerates meanin% and hope in their lives. )ome aspects of this dimension of the Church6s #or$ #ill onl" be done #ithin the Church buildin%s that s$irt the ed%e of the public s+uare. 4ut that #or$ is not irrelevant to #hat happens outside.

! #as some#hat surprised #hen ! found a recent ne#spaper profile of m" first si, months as Archbishop of Dublin that never once mentioned the name of 9esus or seemed to attach no societal value to the scores of occasions in #hich ! stressed the importance of evan%eli&ation and rene#al of the Church. There are some #ho seem to feel that reli%ious convictions are to be rele%ated to the private sphere unless the" serve to raise controvers". ! spend most of m" time visitin% parishes and church %atherin%s, meetin% #ith priests and la" leaders, encoura%in% the more active participation of la" #omen and men to follo# full" the inspiration of the (ospel and to #itness to their faith in a comple, #orld. ! re-ect an" implication that this activit" has no societal value. The Church is about e,plorin% the hei%hts of transcendence in order to %o deeper into the depths of #hat our e,istence is about. Christian faith is a radical option to allo# ourselves to be loved b" 9esus and to reflect that love in an undivided #a" #ith others. A bishop is primaril" a #itness to faith in (od, but not to some sort of %eneric deit". /or the Christian, the revelation of (od is not -ust a theor", an ideolo%" or a series of intellectual propositions, it is the revelation of somethin% concrete, that of a (od #ho loves, #ho so loved the #orld that his son #ould %ive his life for the salvation of all. /or the Christian, revelation is about a person, 9esus Christ, #ho revealed to us that (od is love and tau%ht us ho# to live accordin% to that love. That concept of the of (ods6 %ratuitous love is the most po#erful antidote to a consumerist, mar$et driven culture, #here ever"thin% has a price8ta%, #here ever"thin% seems someho# mar$etable. This is the messa%e that is at the root of an immense Christian presence of carin% and service, a remar$able contribution to the benefit of societ". This is at the heart of the contribution of reli%ious education to the public %ood. There are also man" #ho can tell "ou that the" find the stren%th to $eep %oin% in public commitment onl" because the" also ta$e time occasionall" to leave the public s+uare, to see$ rene#al, support and spiritual nourishment. !nevitabl" the Church #ill chan%e and #ill have to chan%e in the "ears to come. ! am convinced that the Church #ill brin% its carin% #itness in the future much less throu%h a massive institutional presence, and more throu%h the +ualit" of the service that it provides, its best practice, and the #a" it reaches out to those #hose needs are not met b" others. ! #ould li$e to see a %reater presence of Church personnel and services in ensurin% the hi%hest possible +ualit" of life for the elderl" in societ", in order to avoid institutionalisation. This #ould be complemented b" the e,traordinar" #or$ bein% done b" hospice or%ani&ations #ho %ive #itness to the value of human life, even #hen it is in its #ea$est moments. There are moments in our lives in #hich #e #ill be in the happ" position to realise ourselves but there #ill also be moments in our lives #hen #e #ill need to be carried, supported encoura%ed and enhanced. Ma" ! as$ a final +uestion? 1h" is it that the Church in !reland, #hich has such a record of carin%, appears at the same time to man" as a distant institution, or #orse as a vested interest #hich places its o#n survival or reputation before other dimensions. This is a +uestion #hich all #ithin the Church #ill have to face more directl" if the voice of believers is to be heard authenticall" in the pluralist public s+uare. /aith is a ris$. !t is the ris$ of committin% oneself to the un$no#n demands of a (od #ho is love and #ho scattered the proud in the ima%ination of their hearts ;:$ @0D@>. /aith has its o#n certaint", but faith in a :ord #ho is to come reminds us al#a"s that the #a" of the Church must be a #a" of purification and rene#al so that the si%n of Christ ma" shine more bri%htl" over the face of the Church . ;:umen (entium, 2 n.@D> 9esus teaches #ith authorit". 4ut that is not a licence for his disciples to be authoritarian. The Church6s authorit" is in the authorit" of its teachin%. Tomorro#6s Church #ill be a more humble, listenin% Church, #hich realises that the fundamental obedience is obedience of the Church itself to the #ord of (od #hich alone has the stren%th to chan%e the #orld accordin% to (od6s plan. The Church #ill be more a pil%rim Church, #hich -ourne"s #ith all those of %ood #ill #ho #or$ for %oodness and honest" and #ho %enuinel" see$ the truth. An en+uirin%, carin% public s+uare #ill be enriched b" the presence of en+uirin%, carin% Christians, #ho brin% that same messa%e that brou%ht enrichment to the public s+uares and dust trac$s of 'alestine over t#o thousand "ears a%o b" 9esus, the 3a&arene, #ho revealed the stren%th of (od b" humblin% himself.