THE current form of ministry in Ireland, as practised by the
Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, must undergo radical
transformation if either are to survive, the former Dean of St
Patrick's Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Robert MacCarthy, said on
Dr MacCarthy told an interdenominational forum in Mullingar, Co.
Westmeath, that: "Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of
Ireland are trying to maintain the set-apart, 'Jack of all trades'
ministry which both have inherited from the Middle Ages.
Essentially, one person is respons-ible for all ministry within a
given geographical area, and any delegation is from him or her. It
made perfect sense in the Middle Ages, but it makes little sense
Dr MacCarthy said that the RC Church's pastoral councils were
"light years ahead" of the present Anglican select-vestry system.
"The [RC] parish priest of my rural parish in South Tipperary has
recently announced that he will be the last priest there, and that
after his time it will be up to the pastoral council to make
arrangements in ministry.
"Ironically, this will leave the Roman Catholic Church in a much
more radical position than the Church of Ireland. If this were an
Anglican parish, the parish would simply be combined with its
neighbour, and the Rector would merely extend his jurisdiction over
a wider area."
The Irish position was a missed opportunity for the Church of
Ireland to show a more flexible approach to ministry, Dr MacCarthy
said. "Some recent articles in The Furrow have shown the
way forward, and will give the lead which the Church of Ireland
should have been giving."