25 April 2019, The Tablet

Martin slams Vatican officials over papal visit in candid interview

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said the Church in Ireland has to “re-find its future” and it will likely be one in which there is a lot more doubt than the “closed certainty” of the past, writes Sarah Mac Donald.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Irish Times, the archbishop also lamented that all projects to find alternative patrons for Catholic schools had so far failed. He said the Church’s dominance in education gave rise to tension because a substantial proportion of the population do not want the Church to maintain as many schools as it currently does.

“Possibly 88 per cent of schools in Dublin are Catholic Church-controlled, with the Catholic population down to 70 per cent,” he stated. What was needed was an education system that respects difference but also “fosters dialogue and contact rather than shouting at one another”.

Elsewhere in the interview Archbishop Martin reiterated his criticisms of the Apostolic Visitation to the Irish Church announced by Benedict XVI in 2010 following the publication of the Murphy and Ryan reports.

“There was the idea that the Irish Church could be reformed from outside. That’s not the case. The Visitation was not very well planned,” he said, adding that its findings were vague, and that the three-year process had delayed home-grown reform. Archbishop Martin also indicated that two seminaries, in Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome, were not sustainable financially for the Irish Church, and spoke of the need for a new approach to formation that would see seminarians more engaged in parish placements.

Asked if he was disappointed at the turnout for Pope Francis’ visit last August, the archbishop replied: “You couldn’t but be.”

He regretted that there was too little consultation with the Vatican on papal speeches, but praised Francis’ “very strong” words of repentance over the exploitation of children made at the Phoenix Park Mass, saying that if he had said those things in the past, the Conference of Religious in Ireland would have “kneecapped me”.

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