Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who at least can never be accused of trading in platitudes and soundbites, has made yet another eyebrow-raising comment, this time while speaking at a summer school.
The Irish Times reports:
On the level of priestly vocations, he said: “It is not just that the number of candidates is low. It is also that many of those who present are fragile and some are much more traditional than those who went before them.” There was “a danger that superficial attachment to the externals of tradition may well be a sign of fearfulness and flight from changed realities”.
Now, I see what the Archbishop is getting at, and it's a fair point. If you flee to the bosom of the Church in a purely reactionary spirit, then you are simply using the Church as a weapon, a rallying point. You are not answering the call of Christ.
And yet...when the Archbishop says of the new seminarians, "some are much more traditional than those who went before them", the only response I can think of is, "I should bloody hope so!"
There seems to be a grim irony in an Archbishop of Dublin, standing on top of the ruins of an Irish Church that has been brought down by decades of insidious liberalism, warning against the dangers of excessive traditionalism. It seems like a man crawling through the desert, on the point of dying of thirst, worrying about drowning.