Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has lamented the growing “language of polarisation” within the Church which he warned can be “hate-filled”, “destructive” as well as “bitter, personalised and judgemental”.
In his homily at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral on Sunday 30 September, the Archbishop said, “We can be tempted to judge others who think differently than we do. When we become judgmental, we are actually saying to ourselves that we are somehow better than others are.”
His comments may be a reference to the ongoing controversy stirred up by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States, who has accused Pope Francis and other church officials of failing to act on accusations of abuse against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
His two letters have divided bishops in the US and emboldened conservatives disgruntled with Pope Francis’ reform agenda.
However, Archbishop Martin warned on Sunday that this polarisation “excludes and divides people and smothers true prophecy”.
He also stressed that there is no place for arrogance in the Christian life and that “The Church must resist any temptation to be arrogant.”
The Spirit, he said, appears in unexpected places, in unexpected ways and in words that come from unexpected voices.
He recalled Pope Francis strong words to the Irish Bishops in August in which he warned them not to repeat “the attitudes of aloofness and clericalism that at times in your history have given the real image of an authoritarian, harsh and autocratic Church”.
Acknowledging the change in the religious culture of Ireland, the Archbishop said that for some this caused them uncertainty and even anxiety.
“There is always a danger in such a situation that some close in on themselves and develop a siege mentality and rush for comfort in what is familiar, avoiding risk and perhaps failing to allow the newness of Jesus to enter into and challenge our hearts.”
An inward looking, a ghetto church would be just a religious sect and not the Church of Jesus Christ, he said.
Last week, in his homily at St Patrick Campus (DCU) for the opening of the academic year, Archbishop Martin acknowledged that there are reasons why many people in Ireland have lost confidence in the ability of the Catholic Church to act as a moral guarantor in tomorrow’s Ireland.
“There are questions of trust and accountability in the way the Catholic Church addressed abuse. There are questions of closed clericalism,” he said.