Catholic Archbishop-elect of Dublin prepares for major reorganisation

THE IRISH TIMES — With half of Dublin’s priests over 70 and due to retire within the next five years and congregations ageing and declining, the Archbishop-elect Dermot Farrell of Dublin faces the job of managing decline.

These problems are now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, not least financially, with income down by up to 80 per cent in Dublin during the first lockdown last spring and priests’ income cut by 25 per cent.

Noting the losses, Archbishop-elect Farrell said pointedly that people responded “generously where the priest was visible, on the webcam, Facebook. In parishes where nothing went on, they’re the ones who suffered most”.

Priests’ income had to be reduced, but they still have jobs, “a lot less expenses” and “nowhere to spend the money” that they do have. By contrast, many of their parishioners have lost their jobs or their businesses, he pointed out.

In a world “where there are fewer priests”, every parish in the archdiocese will have to change and some will amalgamate, but this will be done in consultation with priests and parishioners, not over their heads.