Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin is a truth teller even when it hurts his own side.
His reaction to the Irish yes vote on marriage equality was typical of the man. He stated plainly that the Catholic Church in Ireland needed a reality check.
He has been a lone voice among the church hierarchy in Ireland, warning of the aftermath and consequences of the scandals that were undoing his beloved institution.
Years ago the notion of a same sex referendum in Ireland would have been ludicrous. The church would have applied its legendary belt of the crozier, and the people would have folded and immediately fallen into line.
That day is now long gone. If anything Martin was underestimating the extent of the crisis. A root and branch review, not just a reality check, is what is really needed in the Catholic Church.
Despite the deserved popularity of Pope Francis, the church in Ireland has essentially disappeared as a formidable force in the space of a decade or so.
The entire institution seems hollowed out, save for a lone voice like Martin who has the courage to recognize the reality and try and bring about change.
The vote for same sex marriage was the mother of all wake up calls for the church in Ireland, but it will be interesting to see if it is heeded.
As Martin pointed out, “I think really that the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board, to look at the things it’s doing well, to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, 'Look, have we drifted away completely from young people?'” Martin said.
“It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general.”
The church could start with taking the advice of Francis and becoming far more inclusive, stressing outreach rather than exclusion. They could even find it in their hearts to reach accommodation with gays, divorcees and the other “unclean” human beings and fellow inhabitants of the planet.
The message of exclusion, of painting the other side as dark and irredeemable forces, such as what was attempted by many prelates on the marriage referendum, doesn't wash any more in modern Ireland.
The millennials who will eventually come to power are perfectly comfortable with diverse sexual identity, and they are firm adherents to the noblest quote of all in the Bible: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”
Seeing the Catholic Church campaign on moral issues after decades of sweeping scandals firmly under the diocesan rug does not work any more.
Martin is right to call for a fresh perspective and a new look at the institution and all its faults and its undeniable strengths: caring for the ill, looking after the elderly, providing vital spiritual, community and parish support.
The real fear, as Martin has expressed himself, is if anyone else in his church is listening. To date the sound of silence has been deafening.