A Changed Church

From the Irish Catholic Directory, 1969:

JULY 11 — Cardinal Conway said that there has been “a very marked change in the Church in Ireland.”

At a news conference in Dublin Airport, on his return from the European bishops’ conference in Chur, Switzerland, he recalled his earlier reference in Chur to his impression (from talking with other bishops) that “there has been a swing toward change in the Church since the Vatican Ecumenical Council.”

However, the change in Ireland had been at a steady pace, with the result that people might not notice it.

He illustrated his contention: “If you could switch a time machine to the year before the Vatican Council, I think you would be startled at the change that has come over the Church here since that time.”

And there were many reasons for this, including the fact that in several dioceses there was a Council of Priests. They met regularly and discussed matters of Diocesan policy with the bishop. This was a very important change.

In addition, Parish Councils were coming into being, sprouting up all over the country. The changes in the Liturgy had had a profound effect, and the methods of teaching religion in the schools had been revolutionised. All of these things, he explained, had produced a change — and, of course, a change for the good.

See also his speech at the annual prize-giving in St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (19th June, 1966).


Posted on February 15, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. God Bless him, but…. “For the Good?????

  2. Indeed, I wonder what he would make of things now, if he was still alive…

  3. I always knew people were… swingers 😉

    And yes, I *am* startled…


  4. Thanks for this. It seems that Cardinal Conway, just as Fr Worlock, seems to have been mesmerised during the Council.

  5. Cardinal Conway was Abp. of Armagh during my childhood and teens (he died in ’77). He had a reputation for being slightly distant but nevertheless he was well liked – he lived in my town as Bishop until his appointment as Cardinal. I remember there was a drive-past on his appointment, presumably on the way to an official reception, as we kids all lined up outside the school, waving little papal flags (that would have been about ’64 or early ’65).

    While he, like most of the Hierarchy, certainly followed the party line about V2 and its wonderfulness (although perhaps with reservations) there were no liturgical shenanigans during his tenure. While all the usual changes were duly made (wooden temporary altars etc.) most of the older trappings continued e.g. processions with huge attendance, Lenten missions ditto (separate men’s and women’s) and there was practically no wreckovation in existing churches – although some new churches could be pretty awful. The horror story in St. Patrick’s in Armagh was perpetrated after his time. Some solemnity did give way – I don’t remember all that many High Masses from about 1966 on and of course they disappeared altogether after 1970.

    The slide really started in Card O’Fiaich’s time, although I don’t blame him personally… too much. But if Card. Conway were to have come back in 1987 10 years after his death he would have seen far more serious changes than in the period between 1964 and 1969. In fact he probably would have dropped dead again straight away as soon as he beheld the carnage wreaked on the glorious sanctuary of his own cathedral.

    • Thanks jaykay, most interesting. I wasn’t alive at the time so I’m grateful for your reminsciences.

      Cardinal O’Fiaich’s legacy has largely overshadowed by the Troubles but he certainly overseen a lot of change. He also supported women’s ordination, at least in principle. (Quite sad in many ways – he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of medieval Irish Church history.) Cardinal Daly also bears a lot of the blame for the mess we’re in, IMHO.

      • De mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that but… I never liked Card. O’Fiaich. I wasn’t alone in that view. I heard him described as “slippery” and I think that about says it. Great scholar, of course, and probably should have stuck to that. Too much of the man of the people popularity-seeking which one could never accuse his predecessor of being. I think Card Daly was actually a straighter character, in fact.

        I didn’t know about the women’s ordination thing but it doesn’t surprise, somehow. Popularity-seeking again. R.I.P.

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