Hope was essential as people battled with the daily challenges facing them, he added. “I think the church has to be a beacon of hope because we need hope to survive,” he told the The Irish Times.

The cardinal said that renewing the church at all levels would be a “long tough haul” but that despite the problems the Catholic Church was “resilient, vibrant and alive”.

Cardinal Brady said that the formation of the Diocesan Pastoral Council brought together the different strands of the church and had a major involvement from lay people. More than 70 people attended Saturday’s meeting of the new council which was one of the initiatives that flowed from Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March.

As well as addressing the issue of clerical abuse Pope Benedict also called for healing, repentance and renewal. The new body would be part of that renewal, said Cardinal Brady. The role of the council will be to act as an umbrella group to advise the primate and help plan the pastoral programme for the diocese over the next few years.