In spite of competing with the Royal wedding, the rugby and one of the sunniest days of the year so far, our conference ‘Five Years to Save the Irish Church’ sold out on Saturday with 300 attendees gathering in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin’s city centre.
Fr Brian D’Arcy started off the day with his talk ‘Listening to the People’. He said that the aim of the conference was to focus on reforming the Church rather than restoring the Irish Church of the past and he emphasised the importance of non-jugemental listening and hearing. Fr Joe McDonald gave a rousing presentation that called on the faithful to be “revolutionaries of Christ” and he said it was time to “make way for the women”. Sr Stan Kennedy challenged the Church to opt for compassion over rules and laws, while also challenging the conference attendees to check if they were complicit in structural sin, accepting injustices such as homelessness as if they are a normal part of life.
Fr Mark Patrick Hederman took the audience on a journey, in his own unmistakably way, through how the Irish Church went from being a “lazy monopoly” in the past to being a minority in a secular society. Former President, Mary McAleese, was the keynote speaker and she asked attendees to ruminate on the idea of including children in family religious practice such that children can choose whether or not to be baptised. Journalist, Martin O’Brien chaired a panel discussion with some of the speakers covering questions from the crowd ranging from the role of young people, the position of women in the Church and the hierarchical structure of the Vatican.