Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam has issued a reflection on the Covid-19 crisis and his hopes for the emergence of the Church from this challenging time. He opened his reflection be stating his central suggestion, that “It might be said that any crisis contains opportunity for growth. For the discovery or rediscovery of purpose”, he said.

Speaking on the Church’s handling of the pandemic restrictions, Archbishop Neary said, “For the Church in Ireland this has come at a time of weakness unparalleled in its recent history. And yet the challenge was met.” Bishops, priests and parishes across the country have innovated various new ways of carrying out their ministry through radio, television and especially the internet.

Archbishop Neary went on to pose a daring question to the faithful:

“The central question facing us at this time is the only one worth asking. No matter that our numbers are dwindling and our resources accordingly sparse. No matter even that vocations are down to a trickle. These problems dwarf beside the one we face if we cannot answer this crucial question. And if we can answer it then these lesser problems can all, in God’s time, one way or another, be solved. It is the question asked of any catechumen at the brink of baptism: Do you believe?”

Even before the pandemic, as a result of the broader culture, believers can feel vulnerable, small, and even old, weak. But Archbishop Neary assures us that “God does His best work when we are too weak to get in the way.”

Addressing the need for a renewed sense of mission in the Church, the archbishop continued, “The Second Vatican Council noted the crisis of faith in the modern age (Gaudium et Spes, 19-21). The situation has hardly improved fifty years later.

“The potential of the internet for spreading the Gospel recalls the crucial importance of the endless roads and protected shipping lanes of the Roman Empire for the initial spread of Christianity. It has proved a gift during the lockdown and the possibilities for spreading the Gospel through the internet are endless.”

In conclusion, Archbishop Neary said, “The fact is that this is a tremendous opportunity to rediscover ourselves as Church. It is a time of tremulous new beginnings dependent entirely on God and His gift of faith.”

To read the full reflection, click here.

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