Dublin Archbishop: Church Must Change With the Times

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 9, 2015   

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DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin is saying the Catholic Church must change with the times. He is also supporting the increased secularization of Catholic schools.

At a Sunday Mass in Dublin held in honor of the 170th anniversary of the Catholic Institute for the Deaf, Martin said in his homily, "The Church is slow to change. Inertia may seem to mean that things can go on as they were and are; but the opposite is the case."

Referring to the June referendum that legalized gay "marriage" in the country, Martin continued, "I spoke some time ago of a 'reality check'; I could also have said 'a wake-up call.' Times have changed in Irish society and the Church must change." 

And discussing the recent secularist push by the government to remove control from the Catholic Church over education, Martin said, "The Church must free itself and become unencumbered even from positions which may in the past have been positive and useful to both Church and society, including in the control of schools and institutions."

Archbishop Martin spoke to RTÉ Radio over the weekend, criticizing those in the Church for "dragging their feet" in implementing these secularist reforms.

"I feel that certain people are dragging their feet and feeling that, well, if we don't talk about it, it'll go away. It won't, and the danger is we will end up without Catholic schools."

About 90 percent of state-funded Catholic schools in Ireland remain under the control of the Catholic Church. The government has been pushing for divestment of Catholic patronage over the past few years, however — reforms that were begun under former Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn, a supporter of abortion and gay "marriage," whose animus against the Catholic Church is public record. In a 2010 speech to the Irish Parliament where Quinn argued to legalize same-sex civil unions, he said of the Catholic Church:

There was a time when those same officeholders [disgraced Catholic bishops] would've told this assembly what to legislate for, how to legislate, how far we could go, and how far we cannot trespass beyond the boundaries which they set for us. ... That day's gone. That day no longer exists. That day will no longer return in my lifetime and I hope not in the lifetime of my grandchildren.

In 2011, Quinn created the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, whose purported aim was to offer recommendations "to ensure and promote greater diversity and inclusion in primary schools." Despite its stated goal, the Forum's recommendations result, in practical terms, in a dilution of Catholic identity in education.

In a press release in 2014 supporting the Forum's recommendations that schools need to be divested of Catholic patronage, Quinn emphasized that the goverment must "make sure that schools are as welcoming and as inclusive as possible to all pupils of all backgrounds, beliefs and nationalities."

Quinn resigned in 2014, and the current Minister of Education Jan O'Sullivan continues to carry out the agenda he set in motion. The latest includes a new religion curriculum that may require Catholic schools to teach about other faiths from a secularist perspective.

Schools are permitted 30 minutes per day on religious instruction, which in Catholic schools usually focuses on teaching the Faith as well as preparing children for First Communion and Confirmation.

With the proposed new religion course, this could cut into the 30-minute time period, replacing part or all of it with a secularist perspective on world religions. The Department of Education has determined that teaching about other faiths through the lens of one particular belief system is not a good idea.

Apparently, Abp. Martin has no problem with the reforms.

"If a school is working well in a community no one wants a change to that. But change is taking place. The population is changing. The views of teachers are changing. ... I hope we can have a robust discussion about this."

Touching on this point in his Sunday homily, Martin went even further to criticize the Church for its "hypocrisy" and "disregard" for the "marginalized."

When the Church "becomes trapped into a logic of looking after its own privilege and power first, then a situation arises very quickly in which nothing else counts."

"Jesus says of the scribes that they were even prepared to 'swallow up the property of the widows' to achieve their own satisfaction," he said, "and we know that in biblical terms widows and orphans represent the marginalized of any kind."

"Jesus is reminding his hearers — and indeed reminding us many generations later — that the temptation to hypocrisy and disregard for others is in fact a temptation which is recurrent in history, a temptation which can continuously repeat itself."

Archbishop Martin was known for taking a weak position on Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum. Before the vote, he had said he wouldn't tell Catholics how to vote. Although he himself would be voting "no" based on his "religious convictions," he went on, "I have, however, no wish to stuff my religious views down other people's throats."

After Ireland overwhelmingly passed gay marriage, Martin commented, "I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day. They feel this is something enriching the way they live. It's a social revolution."

 

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Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is executive producer and editor-in-chief at ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1