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Retired Irish archbishop stirs controversy with interview

September 04, 2023

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CWN Editor's Note: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the retired Archbishop of Dublin, presented a bleak picture of the state of Irish Catholicism in a lengthy interview with RTE television.

Questioned about the approval of legal abortion and same-sex marriage in a country once dominated by Catholicism, the archbishop conceded that the Church had lost the support of the people. As he explained it: “The Church has got so caught up in the dogmatic rights and wrongs, absolute rights and wrongs, that it’s lost the context.”

Archbishop Martin said that he lost support among his own clergy for a different reason: the sex-abuse scandal. He said: “There were a lot of priests who were angry with me because I began talking about this subject.”

Questioned on another controversial topic, the archbishop said: “I don’t see, in any way, that women priests will be something we will see in my lifetime.” He thereby left open the possibility—ruled out by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI—that the Church might ordain women at some point in the future.

Reflecting on his own life in ministry, Archbishop Martin said that priests of his generation were not prepared for a life of celibacy. “We were never trained for celibacy,” he said; “we didn’t talk about it; you were just cut off from the world.”

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