Euronews: A Catholic crisis: why priests in Ireland are fading into history and not being replaced

In what was one of Europe’s most religious countries, mass attendance has dropped severely, Irish priests find themselves working far past retirement age, and only a small number of apprentices are committing themselves to the church.

In Ireland, where religion has played such a big place in its past, for better or for worse, fewer and fewer people are attending mass on Sunday, and even less are willing to commit themselves to the sanctified life of a priest.

This, among other reasons, is leading these men of God to work well past retirement age while still trying to cover the work of churches all over the country.

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  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    Last Sunday I recited the first EP, the Roman Canon. It used to be the most beautiful of the four EPs in the translation that was scrapped ten years ago. It is totally unprayable now, which is why it is NEVER used, nor is EP IV. Over the vehement protests of Latinists, literary scholars, pastors the ghastly new translation was imposed by illiterates in a stomach-churning act of abuse. Every Sunday the simple faithful are subjected to an act of linguistic rape. Is it any wonder the pews are emptying?

    1. M.J. Toner says:

      Well said, Joe O`Leary! But what surprises me is that so few others here seem to notice, or to consider the quality of the English used in the Eucharist as at all important, and certainly not worth writing about, to judge by the paucity of comments on the problem over the years. Even here, on a site distinguished by so many forward-thinking people! While living language could do so much to speak directly to and for people each Sunday, instead we endure the pompous, the turgid and the banal, as well as sometimes with it, rather dubious theology. They should just have returned it all to Latin, which would be preferable to the latinate mess we have.

  2. Fr Ned Quinn says:

    And did Jesus not die for all?

    1. Sean O’Conaill says:

      #3 “And did not Jesus die for all?”

      “… lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

      If Our Lady has truly given us that prayer, has she not also answered ‘yes’ to Ned’s question?

  3. Peadar O'Callaghan says:

    Joe, very welcome your post today [1] a sad time for lovers of lyrics, music, and song.
    I don’t have a great memory for words. So, I’m always having to look up to see who said what and where. But I never forget voices. I was thinking of this today on hearing of the death of Shane MacGowan and his extraordinary singing voice and while looking at the shoe-box full of letters my mother sent me in my seminary days in the 1970’s and the beginning of the eighties. One precious letter among the many is from my dad who signs off: “Your loving father”. Their voices never leave me.

    I think of the words of Odysseus, of his voice:
    “These were my mother’s words. Without knowing whether I could, I yearned to embrace her spirit, dead though she was. Three times, in my eagerness to clasp her to me, I started forward. Three times, like a shadow or a dream, she slipped through my hands and left me pierced by an even sharper pain.” [This is the translation of Book 11, 206ff. by E.V. Rieu revised by his son D.C. H. Rieu in Homer, The Odyssey in Penguin Classic, 1991, p.165]

    Emily Wilson, who says her style of translation: “echoes the rhythms and phases of contemporary anglophone speech translates these same words and voice of Odysseus as:
    “Then in my heart I wanted to embrace
    the spirit of my mother. She was dead,
    and I did not know how. Three times I tried,
    longing to touch her. But three times her ghost
    flew from my arms, like shadows or like dreams.
    Sharp pain pierced deeper in me as I cried.”
    [The Odyssey, Homer, translated by Emily Wilson, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2018}

    When I was doing my mam’s funeral, I think I said:
    “Three times I tried to put my arms round her neck, and three times
    The phantom slipped my hands, my vain embrace: it was like
    Grasping a wisp of wind or the wings of a fleeting dream.”

    I think these were from a translation by C. Day Lewis, but I can’t remember.
    Though passion and feeling may be absent from Mass text translations I think presiders at memorable liturgies, some sad, others joyful, have given us in very recent times great examples by their voices of compassion and care of how to translate unimaginable experiences into words of hope, from the trauma and pastoral experiences of their ministry.
    The passing of Shane MacGowan, may he rest in peace, calls to mind another great tragedy: the passing of passion from our words and a human feeling voice to make sense of sadness and joy.
    Rest in Peace, Shane, and may those you loved be consoled by kind words of tenderness in coming days and thank you for reminding liturgists that the stone water-jars were never “meant for the ablutions” but for a joyful ‘translation’ [Jn 2.6]
    Shane, you will never fade into history.

  4. Paddy Ferry says:

    I agree with all the comments above. Very well put, Joe and, yes, an act of abuse.

    And, I completely agree, M.J. Toner,
    “… we endure the pompous, the turgid and the banal, as well as sometimes with it, rather dubious theology.”

    Good to hear from you, Ned. Yes, that was a big surprise, Jesus only died for some of us, not all of us!!

    I will never say “And with your Spirit”. In fact, I quietly say all the old responses. After lockdown, I thought I had forgotten some of them but they have come back to me now.

    People don’t bother talking about it anymore because — as I understood it at the time — just about everybody thought it disastrous except Ratzinger and a few of his right-wing allies and they just pushed it through against all opposition.

    The late Maurice Taylor, then President of ICEL, tells the story so well in his book “It’s the Eucharist. Thank God”.
    I once had a long conversation with him about the whole debacle. I think he felt broken by the whole thing. God rest him. He was Britain’s oldest bishop when he died in June.

  5. Peadar O'Callaghan says:

    How does one translate into words or make sense of an encounter with a god-man?
    So many memories of Shane MacGowan known by many through personal friendship and by others through his lyrics are everywhere in the media this weekend. Reading them makes one amazed at the task of the evangelists who found dialogues, parables, reminiscences, and stories of encounters with the God-Man Jesus of Nazareth to translate into ‘gospel’ that have stood the test of two millennia of time.

    The memories of MacGowan being recounted reveal the uniqueness of each individual God-gifted life. Shane was the hero of his own story. One wonders – Is Redemption a prelude to Deification that only ‘grace’ makes possible?

    In this year dedicated to ‘recruiting’ apprentices to priesthood the life of MacGowan might make us reflect that the many ‘tongues of fire’ in the Upper Room came down on not just “a small number of apprentices” and that if one stretches out a hand to the man from Galilee one must be prepared to walk on the waves.

    Personally, the untimely passing of MacGowan leads me to reflect on Rilke: ‘And then the knowledge comes to me that I have space within me for a second, timeless, larger life.” [I Love My Being’s Dark Hours]

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