Organiser of papal visit in candid interview
The church leader organizing the visit to Ireland by Pope Francis later this year, Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin, said at the weekend that misogyny (dislike of or contempt for women) is indeed present in the Catholic Church.
He told RTE radio interviewer Miriam O’Callaghan (who is widely spoken of in Irish media as a potential candidate for Ireland’s Presidency later this year) that he would personally like to see a stronger female presence in the church. Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese last month was outspoken in her criticisms of the church, accusing many of its most senior clerics of undisguised misogyny.
In the same interview Dr Martin said he hoped the Pope’s forthcoming Irish visit would be inclusive and that he saw no reason why he should not meet survivors of abuse by priests and members of the church.
A stronger female presence in the church is, said Dr Martin, “achievable but it depends on the ability of the male priesthood to reach out.” But he did not believe he would see female Catholic priests in his own lifetime. Asked about former President McAleese’s recent description of the Catholic Church as an “empire of misogyny”, Dr Martin replied: “Misogynism is present, it is obviously present in the church.
There is a danger in an all male presbyterate that misogynism can enter. You can have a men’s club and I think all of us have to examine our consciences to see where we are on this. How do we change it is the question. Mysogynism is a sign of human immaturity and that is a worry.
“If there are priests that are misogynists, it means they are not mature in themselves and they’ve either never had healthy relations with women or they don’t understand that.” “Misogyny is really about men feeling they are in charge, men feeling they have particular rights. Where does it begin in their lives, does it begin in family?”
He said he hoped the Pope’s forthcoming visit to Ireland will be inclusive but added: “I’m worried that some of the protocol issues will take more time than meet with the poor.”
He said he hoped the Pope would meet struggling families, refugees, prisoners, victims of clerical abuse, the poor and Travellers. “I would like for it to be very inclusive, it’s a short visit. The Pope is coming for two days and I said to the Pope last week, some of the protocol issues may take more time than working with the poor.
“If I were to say what would I like the Pope to see in Ireland, I think one of them would be if we’re talking about families — struggling families (and) victims of clerical abuse certainly. There’s no way that the Pope can’t address that.”
“I hope the people around him when he comes to Ireland will allow him to say what he wants to and what he should say.”
He said Pope Francis is “a complex figure, not all smiles. He’s determined, he knows when people are not being true to him, not being loyal to him. He’s nobody’s fool. When he wants to do something, he’ll do it.” “He’s a free man. He’s in nobody’s pocket,” he said.
Referring to the most recent disclosures of abuse by priests, notably the late Father Malachy Finnegan, said he was puzzled that such stories – about events long ago – were only becoming public now.
“When I became Archbishop I faced the challenge of addressing child sexual abuse in this diocese. I certainly encountered things that I would never have thought of. “I still feel — if I were to be asked what is the strongest emotion that hit me — it was anger. Anger at what happened to people, not just those that were abused, but their parents.
“Young people were scandalised by what happened and I think that has never really been registered as much. “I’ve heard people say to their parents: ‘Are you still hanging out with that crowd – the Church?’ That young people lost confidence in the Church, young people found the stories of cover up and hypocrisy — they found that very difficult to digest.”
“How all these (latest) stories are only coming out now, I don’t know, that people covered up, or didn’t talk, or were afraid to talk or didn’t want to talk, but – let the truth come out. “If people don’t have confidence in a church investigation then get external people to verify.”
He said the Murphy Report (Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin) exposed things that happened enabling the church to take steps to make sure they could never happen again. He said he personally gave more than 74,000 documents to the commission: “I believed it was the right thing, I wasn’t always encouraged to do it.”
He said some had told him they thought it best not to air the Church’s “dirty laundry” in public but he disagreed and insisted “it is the only way” to bring about change. Archbishop Martin recalled how he had to tell the Pope about the Tuam babies scandal and said it caused Pope Francis to become “visibly upset”.
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