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Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – During Holy Week and on Easter, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin blasted the Church for its “harsh exclusion” and “judgmental” treatment of “gay and lesbian people” at “various times in history, and not only in a distant past” and making people “oppressed by guilt.”

“For many, Christianity has been experienced in precisely the opposite sense” of being “a faith of new life and of liberation,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said at the Easter Vigil. “For many, Christianity had been turned into a faith of prohibitions. Certain theologies spoke about freeing people from sin, but had developed a concept of sin and sinner which made it almost impossible for a sinner ever to feel himself or herself truly liberated. There were so many rules that many were left with a sense of scrupulosity which left them trapped and oppressed by guilt and doubts. We had created a religion of fear, so much that even when we tried to live the good life we were never left with a sensation of being free.”

“Too often however we acquiesce in watching oppression,” he said. “Too often the Church has fallen into the logic not of new life but of siding with power and conformity and safety. A Christian theology is always a theology of liberation. But it is not an ideology of liberation. Not every ideology of liberation is really one which will enable people to be free. A true theology of liberation is not purely political. True liberation theology is one which will never leave any politics happy.”

“Liberation is present in the Church through the presence of the Risen Lord who enables us – and challenges us – to live the dangerous and perplexing path of freedom,” he continued. “We should not be fearful of the fact that freedom may sometimes lead us in the wrong direction; it is oppression which always leads in the wrong direction.”

Martin then blasted “those who support an industry which fosters a drug trade which holds people trapped in addiction,” insensitivity toward abused children, and “political and economic cultures” that don't allow people to realize their full potential. 

During an annual Good Friday Way of the Cross procession, Martin asked, “How is it that the church and its institutions could at various times in history, and not only in a distant past, have been so judgmental and treated broken people who were entrusted to its care with such harshness?”

Christians are “called to be close to those whose lives do not find acceptance because of our narrow judgmentalism,” he continued, and “to be heralds of life for those whose lives are weakest and unprotected, the unborn, the elderly, those who our modern society consider less worthy of life than others.”

“How could we have tried to use the teaching and the merciful way of dealing with sinners to justify or accept harsh exclusion?” he asked. “Think of so many groupings who were misjudged: single mothers who wanted to keep a baby they loved, gay and lesbian people, orphans.”

“Scandals within the church, bitterness and division, empty ritual, a false clerical culture of superiority, judgmentalism of people who Jesus would have welcomed, have all contributed to darkening the possibility of many to recognize the true Jesus,” said Martin. “Pope Francis constantly warns of the danger of a church which is just inward-looking, protective of its institution, arrogant rather than merciful.”

During his Easter homily, Martin declared, “There is legitimate separation between Church and State, but both can benefit from the contribution of authentic believers.”

“The Christian cannot remain insensitive to a Church which becomes trapped in its own self-interest,” he said. Commenting on the resurrection of Jesus, Martin said, “Christianity is a faith which opens horizons of possibility.”

Martin has previously refused to define the family and blasted Cardinal Raymond Burke's remarks about Islam for ignoring its “caring and … tolerant side.”

In 2015, when Ireland voted to legalize same-sex “marriage,” Martin refused to tell Catholics how to vote.

His spokesman said it wasn't the archbishop's policy to “tell others how to vote except to stress that, given the importance of marriage and the family, decisions should not be taken lightly and that people should be informed of what is involved.”

“I have … no wish to stuff my religious views down other people’s throats,” Martin wrote in the Irish Times after saying he supports man-woman marriage because of his religious beliefs.

Dublin will host the 2018 World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis will attend. Its theme is “the Gospel of family, joy for the world.”