The Archbishop of Dublin has warned Catholics not to resort to “nastiness and bitterness” when defending the Church on social media.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said he was “astonished” at some of the content and the tone of social media posts by Catholics who felt they were “defending the integrity of Church teaching”.
Speaking at Mass at Newman University Church, Dublin, on Sunday 20th October, the archbishop said: “The Church must reach out to those who belong to its fold but also to the many who are religiously estranged or non-affiliated, not confronting them with readymade answers, but attracting them into that search for the true light and accompanying them on that life-long journey towards discovering their true selves.”
Archbishop Martin said the “journey into faith belongs within the wider search for what is important in life” and is “never just self-driven”.
“It is the kindly light of God that enlightens the path and the entire journey. Newman saw how prayer in particular is what opens our hearts to that light and this Church was to play a special role in university life,” he said during the Mass.
The archbishop also said he had two warnings for those in attendance – “pastoral pessimism” and ensuring that, as Catholics, “the light we look towards is a kindly light”.
Pointing out that Sunday, 20th October marked World Mission Sunday, he cited Pope Francis’ reminder of the dangers of “pastoral pessimism” that would block believers from seeing the joyful newness of the Gospel.
He explained that there is no way in which to draw the religiously alienated back to the faith of their earlier life without first identifying the factors that initially alienated them.
“People will be attracted to the message of Jesus only if they encounter us believers as people of joy,” he said.
Martin admitted to being “astonished at the content and tone of daily messages on social media by Catholic pundits that are anything but kind”.
“There are those who spend all day attacking and responding and feeling that in this they are defending the integrity of Church teaching,” he said. “The kindly light will never be defended by nastiness and bitterness. Such negativity and polarisation is pointless.”
Picture: Silhouettes of people using social media, accompanied by social media company logos. (FrankHoermann/SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA).