The new Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Eamon Martin, has appealed to people in parishes across the diocese to ‘join me in this humble renewal of our Church’.
He said he is looking forward to serving the people of the 61 parishes in Louth, Armagh, Derry, and Tyrone. And of course, he is also parish priest of Dundalk.
As he succeeded Cardinal Sean Brady, he reminded people that he was ordained a bishop just a month after the election of Pope Francis.
That was not a casual remark. Pope Francis has inspired Catholics and impressed non-Catholics all over the world with his new beginning or putting a ‘fresh heart’ into the Church, as Archbishop Martin has put it.
This new beginning is what the Church needs. In the same week as the archbishop’s succession, former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, was giving a lecture in Sydney on the need for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland to adapt, to let the old guard go, to listen.
Archbishop Martin has said: ‘I am certain that a humble renewal in the Church in Ireland will only come about as our lay people exercise their specific vocation and mission to hand on the faith and insert the Gospel into the reality of their daily lives and work.”
This is the line with what Mary McAleese, who is also an expert on Catholic canon law, has been saying.
This is a chance for a new beginning for the Church in this country, for a leadership that is needed after all it has been through: most of it self-imposed.