The traditional stronghold of Catholicism in England and Wales is in a state of decline but should emerge with smaller, more vibrant parish communities, the Archbishop of Liverpool has said.
In an interview in The Tablet’s Christmas edition Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, who was transferred to Liverpool from Nottingham over six months ago, says he wants a Church that is outward looking in the mould of Pope Francis.
“If we become totally obsessed with our own rules and regulations and what we wear and how we do it, then we become a cult, not a Church,” the 65-year-old Dominican said.
The City of Liverpool has witness a major decline in population over the last 50 years and the archdiocese has closed 46 churches and its diocesan seminary since 1968. But it is now coming to the end of a pastoral discernment programme that it is likely to see lay people given increased responsibility in parishes.
Archbishop McMahon admits that change in the archdiocese is constant and that people still expect a “corner shop” model of church that allows them to access the sacraments in parishes on their doorsteps.
“The image I like to use is that of a balloon. If you over inflate balloon, it doesn’t go back to its original shape, so managing that is very hard work. We end up with a lopsided diocese,” he said.
Also in the interview the archbishop talks about:
- Plans to move out of his residence to a smaller, more manageable abode.
- Past run-ins with the Roman Curia and how the atmosphere in Rome has shifted under Pope Francis.
- The possibility of ordaining married men.
- His thoughts on October’s synod on the family including views on gay couples and communion for the divorced and remarried.