CROSSCARE ANNUAL REPORT 2011
Speaking Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Amien Street, 16th September 2011
There is much talk today about renewal and reform in the Church. There are very few who would claim that renewal and reform are not necessary. Differences emerge however about what form that renewal and reform should take. Renewal and reform are necessary for bringing new vitality to the Church today and to chart a path for the Church in the future.
Many are surprised when I say that to understand a path of renewal for the future we must look to the past. What do I mean? We must go right back to the examples we find in the scriptures. We have to rediscover the images of the Church which we gave rise to the remarkable spread of faith in Jesus Christ at the very beginnings of the Church.
And when we look back in that sense then we begin to realise that we are actually not really looking back. The message of the scriptures, the message of Jesus Christ is one which belongs to and challenges every generation and every culture.
I am always struck by the simple descriptions in the Acts of the Apostles which illustrate how the early Church was understood by itself and perceived by others. Those descriptions are about the early Christian community and the sense of communion and generosity which existed among its members and how that sense of communion was noted by others.
The early Christians were not people who had personal agendas. They were not introverted and or self-preoccupied. They gathered. They formed communion. They came together and were nourished by the word of God and the teaching of the Apostles and above all they gathered for the breaking of bread, the Eucharist. This Eucharistic gathering was the soul of every dimension of their life. Through living a sense of communion centred on the Eucharist the early Christians developed then a unique life-style which was based on communion and sharing.
Crosscare can be described in terms of the services that it provides and I am very pleased to see the stress that is placed in ensuring that the services of Crosscare aim to be of the highest quality. There has been a real concern in recent years to ensure that even in times of economic shortage Crosscare continues its commitment to upgrading the facilities it uses and the quality of the service that it offers to each individual or family that it serves.
But Crosscare is not just a service provider. As a Church organization Crosscare is a call. It is a call which reminds the entire Christian community that witnessing to the love of God is not just something that a few do in a representative capacity in the Church’s name, but is a reflection of what Church community must be like.
We are at a difficult moment in the economic situation of our country. Difficult budget decisions will have to be made. It is important that all policy reviews and decisions be looked at through that particular lens which indicates how decisions affect the most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are not just another commodity, but are an essential part of our future and the type of society we desire. The marginalized must not be left on the margins, but must be helped integrate and bring the contribution they can to our future. This is particularly the case of children who are marginalized, through nutritional deficiencies in their early years, through the kind of access they have to educational services adapted to their needs, as well as protection.
We gather here at this centre which is one of many through which Crosscare has provided 180.000 meals each year. Most of our citizens will never have been in a food centre. On the others hand, many of those who have come here probably never imagined that they would one day have to come here. Our being here today is an appeal for solidarity so that the quality care that Crosscare offers the unfortunate and the precarious can continue.
Some say that Crosscare constitutes a “good news” story for the Church. The Church, however, does not use its services of care to advertise or to be a sort of image making for the Church. Crosscare rather represents what the Church is and must be.
The theme of the Eucharistic Congress next year is “Communion with Christ and with one another”. These are inevitably linked to each other. You cannot be an individual isolated Christian. Christianity is not an ideology which I can chose and shape myself, much less pick and choose what I like. Christianity is not an ethical code. Being a Christian is about living as the body of Christ which even though risen still bears within it the wounds of the Lord which symbolise the fact that God revealed himself in Jesus Christ through self-giving, total self-giving. Crosscare takes its name from this total self-giving which Jesus showed on the Cross.
The community of believers who share in celebrating the Eucharist, in Jesus’ redemptive death and resurrection, must become a community of self-giving, rather than an introverted community concerned about its own image or prestige or status. This is what I mean when I say that Crosscare is a call: it indicates to us one essential dimension about what renewal in the Church means.
Renewal in the Church in Dublin is a challenging task. Many will resist it and believe that things can go on just as they were. We need a deep call to renewal in terms of that vitality and witness, of sharing and giving to those in need, which characterised the early Church. The contribution of Crosscare and the call of Crosscare are essential dimensions of that programme. I commend its work to the entire Christian community. I thank Conor Hickey and his extraordinary and enthusiastic co-workers, full-time and voluntary. I greet those whom Crosscare serves and pray that the support that they receive from the Christian community, as brothers and sisters, will enhance them in their dignity and hope.
Speaking Notes of Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland