Friday, December 29, 2023

Change of status could be on the cards for Dublin's Pro-Cathedral

Dublin's Pro-Cathedral on Marlborough Street, north of the Liffey, could be set to lose its current status in favour of St Andrew's church on the southside of the city, under plans currently being considered by the Archbishop of Dublin.

Local councillors from the north inner-city have called for more consultation on the issue which will ultimately require approval by the authorities in Rome.

Built nearly 200 years ago to provide a focal point for the Archdiocese of Dublin.

St Mary's Pro-Cathedral has long had a place at the heart of Ireland's political and religious history but the Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell says the St Mary's complex has its limitations.

In a statement issued earlier this year he said: "The Archdiocese of Dublin is undergoing a process of pastoral renewal," which may see St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row, that was built shortly after St Mary’s serving as the city's Cathedral with St Mary's "raised to the dignity of a basilica".

Archbishop Farrell says the issues around this proposal are still being considered and says a project group has been set up, ahead of any recommendation which would need to be taken to the authorities in Rome.

He said the parishioners of both St Mary’s and St Andrew’s had been consulted and their views would be taken into account.

"Both churches will play a central role in the future pastoral strategy of the Archdiocese for outreach to the city," he stressed.

However, many parishioners at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral are not happy with the move and the issue has now been raised several times at the Central Area Committee of Dublin City Council.

The former Lord Mayor of Dublin, Independent Councillor Christy Burke says people living in the area need to be properly informed soon about what is happening.

"You're in an area now that's under regeneration. We're trying to attract people into the area. It is building up, you see all of the good developments that's taking place here in the community, so why move something that's not broken? And my attitude towards it is, if the Archbishop does not come out with a definitive decision, and he should stop procrastinating, that we won't hesitate, the elected members, some of us at least have no problem in contacting Rome in order to reverse the decision."

He says so far the Archbishop has not replied to two communications received from the Central Area Committee on Dublin City Council.

"We find that unacceptable as the elected members. We do go before the public, they do elect us, and I would have expected the Archbishop to communicate."

He said the Archbishop is still welcome before the next sitting of the Central Area Committee this January in City Hall to outline his plans.

"Given the history that's behind the Pro-Cathedral from way, way back and the connection that it has in this area, and how proud the elderly parishioners are in this area, and how protective they are of the Pro-Cathedral and how committed they are to continuing to make it rise, and it will rise."

Despite a fall-off in church attendance, he says he does not believe removing the Pro-Cathedral's status is the answer.

On the potential move to the southside, he says: "Maybe the Archbishop sees Westland Row as some type of elite area, that has more footfall, maybe he'll get crowds, but that's not the case, it’s totally unacceptable."

Cllr Burke suspects the decline has been going on for some time, but at one time the crowds outside the Pro-Cathedral were like those witnessed at "Hill 16".

He says he is calling on the Catholic Church to help the Pro-Cathedral rise again.