Fine with gay priests, finds celibacy tough
The Head of the Roman Catholic church in Ireland has reported suspected clerical abuse to the authorities on three or four occasions since taking up the post, he revealed on TV at the weekend.
The archbishop, who said the Church was mourning bereavement after Ireland overwhelmingly voted in favour of gay marriage earlier this year, also said that heterosexual couples living together – or cohabiting – out of wedlock are ‘living in sin’.
Sex belonged to marriage, he said.
Armagh is the country’s ecclesiastical capital and Archbishop Eamon Martin’s predecessor retired early be- cause of his role in covering up the Church’s knowledge of priest abusers in the 1970s.
Archbishop Martin, seen a s a ‘clean pair of hands’ un- tainted by the Church’s cover-up of abuse scandals said there have been three or four occasions when he feared a vulnerable person was being abused by a priest.
None were children, he said, and none of the cases led to prosecutions.
Speaking on Irish TV to Eamonn Mallie, Dr Martin also said he saw no conflict in gay men becoming priests but did not believe women could or should be priests.
“Since last September there have been a number of cases, not of child abuse, but cases where we have been
worried that someone who is vulnerable may have been abused by a priest.
“In the past year, there have been three or four situations which I have referred and none of them at this point have been determined by the civil authorities as something that they would process.”
He admitted that deference to the Catholic Church in the past had contributed to child abuse being covered up.
“That can happen and we have seen that very sadly and very dramatically in the betrayal of the trust that has happened within the church.
“I do agree that’s one of the dangers of clericalism, being part of ‘The Firm’ (is) being unable to bring any scandal on the institution.” He said it is important that women be given significant roles in the Catholic Church and that they should feel they are given just as important a place in the church as men. But, he stressed, this did not include becoming a priest, much less a bishop.
He said he had “no problem” with gay men being priests as long as they remained celibate.
He said there are priests who have gay tendencies in the same way priests have heterosexual tendencies, but added that they all have made a commitment to re- main celibate.
He also said the tension between his own desire to be a father and celibacy had been one of the biggest challenges he faced.
“Sometimes I do wish I was a daddy. When I see my brothers and my sisters with their children, that does make me wonder, ‘God I would love to have my own children’.”
The 54-year old Derry- man said he had been tempted by women since be- coming a priest and had regularly to “check himself” in this “hyper-sexualised” culture.
“I think any man does have to be careful and you have to have boundaries in your behaviour,” he added.