Preaching at the Annual Civic Service, (attended by the Lord Mayor and City Council of Cork together with civic leaders and voluntary workers) to mark Saint Patrick’s Day in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, the Right Reverend Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, said that much that we truly value in Ireland is jeopardised by ‘the current, sadly necessary, obsession with finance. Bishop Colton also said that Irish Christians and institutional churches, in particular, have to ‘get used to the new diversity of believing and non-believing in Ireland.’
Of our current preoccupation with money, Bishop Colton said:
I have a sense that, to our detriment, and very ironically, we are as much preoccupied now – albeit in a different or an inverse way – with money as we were in the Celtic Tiger era. Back then it was about getting more and more; now, in part, it is about spending less and less. We are being asked to live our lives like an income and expenditure account; a balance sheet that sometimes doesn’t seem to have humanity below the line, yet alone intermingled in the story. The current, sadly necessary, obsession with finance is in danger of jeopardising much that we truly value.
Of diversity of belief and outlook in contemporary Ireland, Bishop Colton said:
Every year this day hits the raw nerve of our identity. Traditionally we could simply look to Christianity for the telling of our story. For most Irish people that is still the case. But even for many Christians their telling of their story is based on a very different articulation of Christianity: residual belief, spiritual and personal rather than institutional and traditional. And Ireland is populated by ever-increasing numbers of people of other faiths and substantial numbers of non-believers. My strong sense is that our telling of our own story doesn’t yet know how to accommodate such pluralism and diversity within the unfolding tale. Christians in general and institutional churches, in particular, have to get used to that diversity: having a Christian outlook on things, which naturally we commend to everyone, is not, however, about forcing everyone else to hold to that same outlook or excluding others, within the rule of law, from adhering to their own belief.