DUBLIN, March 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin agrees with former Irish president Mary McAleese’s charge that the Irish are negative towards the Catholic Church because of its treatment of women.
McAleese, Ireland’s president from 1997 to 2011, quoted the archbishop in her complaint about women in the Church. Martin said he was “happy” she did so.
McAleese, who has long railed against the Church’s moral teachings on homosexuality and abortion and its ban on so-called women “priests,” tore into the hierarchy for its alleged discrimination against women at a Voices of Faith conference in Rome on International Women’s Day.
She made headlines before the gathering when the Vatican’s Cardinal Kevin Farrell denied her permission to speak inside the Vatican, on the basis that this would signal papal approval.
Voices of Faith, a Catholic feminist collective, thereupon moved its fifth annual gathering to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.
McAleese, who studied canon law in Rome, slammed the Church on the eve of the conference as an “empire of misogyny” that dealt in “codology” rather than theology. In her speech, she mocked even the notion of a synod on women.
“Just imagine this normative scenario — Pope Francis calls a Synod on the role of Women in the Church and 350 male celibates advise the Pope on what women really want!” McAleese said.
“That is how ludicrous our Church has become,” she continued. “How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership, legal and doctrinal discernment and decision-making?”
When McAleese asserted women are “walking away from the Catholic Church in droves” because they are not treated as equals, she approvingly cited Martin.
“Just four months ago the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin felt compelled to remark that ‘the low standing of women in the Catholic Church is the most significant reason for the feeling of alienation towards it in Ireland today,’” McAleese said.
Martin responded that night at a book launch of a revised edition of Donal Harrington’s book entitled Tomorrow’s Parish.
“Her challenge to the internal culture of the Church today was brutally stark,” said Martin, as quoted in the Irish Times.
“Some may find it unpleasant or unwelcome,” he said. But “I must accept the challenge with the humility of one who recognizes her alienation.”
And the archbishop said he was pleased to be source material for McAleese.
“Probably the most significant negative factor that influences attitudes to the church in today’s Ireland is the place of women in the church,” Martin said.
“I am not saying that just because of the comments in these days by President McAleese. Indeed, I was happy to note that President McAleese quoted that exact phrase of mine in her speech,” the archbishop said.
Martin further criticized the Catholic Church in Ireland for its attitude toward young people, and for being “a highly moralizing Church” in the past.
A survey concluded that “a number of young people noted that it was people in parishes (priests and parishioners) who were the greatest obstacles for young people getting involved,” Martin quoted.
“Jesus did not write an arid rulebook as an inspiration for his followers. Jesus did not think that belief in him could be attained through imposition,” he said.
Martin predicted the Church in the future “will have much less to do with management and structures. It will be about men and women who have the ability to speak the language of faith authentically in a world where that language may be alien and to speak in a way that attracts.”
The archbishop earlier responded to Farrell’s ban of McAleese from speaking in the Vatican by stating the World Gathering of Families in Dublin in August “will be an inclusive event, open to all families and family members,” reported Irish Times.
The Dublin conference sparked controversy last October when LifeSiteNews uncovered that a program released under Martin’s oversight contained photos and text promoting homosexual couples as a form of family.
In February 2018, the offending text and photos had been deleted from the program, with various media outlets attributing this to LifeSiteNews exposing the heterodox material.