The Derry-born leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has warned that there is “a definite temptation” nowadays to “rob the Church of hope”.
Archbishop Eamon Martin made the comment in his homily at a concelebrated Mass in Italy at the weekend.
Elsewhere in his homily, the Primate of All Ireland said: “We often hear people speaking about the decline in Church practice, or the lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life as signals that Europe has ‘lost the faith’.”
He acknowledged that it was true that many people in Europe had drifted away from regular Church practice.
He also referred to an increasing loss of the ‘sense of the sacred’ with more and more people appearing to be growing used to living their lives with little or no reference to belief and trust in God.
However, he reminded people that Pope Francis tells us that it is now, more than ever, that the world needs to hear the song of the Lord, ‘the joy of the Gospel’.
“He challenges us to get out there and to bring faith to life. A Church which does not come out of herself to evangelise, he said, becomes self-referential and then gets sick,” Dr Martin said.
He added that the greatest challenge and opportunity facing the Church these days was how do we become ‘missionary’ and get out there... “singing the new song of the Lord to the world.”