It won't be possible to hold Sunday mass in every church in the future, according to the new Archbishop of Dublin.
Dermot Farrell said parishes will eventually only have one priest - and 'maybe not even that' - due to an ageing clergy.
He says the Church has "inherited a lot of infrastructure from the 18th and 19th century" that it probably doesn't need, but it's important any changes are agreed with people.
He was speaking after a closed ceremony today which saw him officially succeed retiring Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
The new archbishop was formally the Bishop of Ossory
On today's Hard Shoulder, Archbishop Farrell said he wasn't able to have family present at today's event due to the current restrictions.
He said: "We just had the Apostolic Nuncio and Archbishop Martin, which we needed for the ceremony to be valid. Unfortunately, family members like everyone else had to look on online.
“I understand that, because we’re living in difficult times. People can’t have people at their weddings, and we have very small numbers at funeral. I’m not alone in not having family members there."
He said it's a 'great privilege' to take up the role, and praised his predecessor's strong leadership.
He said: “[Archbishop Martin] saw how people were hurting because of things that had happened in the Church. He provided a very forceful and unambiguous leadership, particularly in regard the safeguarding of children.
"He took very difficult positions, which he was sometimes heavily criticised for - but we really can say today the Church and wider society owe a great debt of gratitude to him.”
"There are going to be issues"
The new Archbishop says he'll be keeping up the norms and structures already in place, but will also need to face the challenges posed by an ageing clergy.
He told Kieran: “We have 197 parishes, and we have 350 active priests - the average age of the priests is around 70 years of age. There are going to be issues there as a faith community we’ll have to face.
“We need to talk to the people on the ground - eventually we will only have possibly one priest per parish, and maybe not even that many as we go forward.
"More and more lay people are going to have to take responsibility in terms of the leadership provided at parish level.
“Will we be able to continue to celebrate mass in every church, every parish in the diocese? The answer is we will not be able to do that into the future."
He said many people are very attached to their local churches, but it costs money to keep them and their facilities open.
However, he stressed that the challenges are not unique to Dublin.
He said: "It’s every diocese in the country.
“In fairness, people are very astute - they can sometimes see the problems better than us.”
He says the Church also has to ‘face up’ to the challenges posed by in city that’s completely changed compared to 50 years ago - saying they will reach out to everybody, but it will “undoubtedly” be a smaller church than it once was.
Mother and Baby Homes report
Archbishop Farrell takes up the role just weeks after the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission's final report.
He has welcomed the publication of the document, saying it's a 'very impressive body of work'.
The archbishop said: “There are a number of issues there that need to be addressed, in terms of what happened in the mother and baby homes and the county homes… I think the first thing we need to address is that people are looking for their information.
“That information is very difficult for people to access at the moment - there are all sorts of obstacles in their way.
"There needs to be new legislation, possibly even a referendum to allow that… the Church would like to play its part there."
He added that the Church will "certainly be open" to making any records they have available, "providing it can be done in a way that’s safe and legal".
However, he cautioned there are still complications - including around mothers who do not their records disclosed.