Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin speaks… December 30, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
Dr. John Neill, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin is interviewed in the Mail by Jason O’Toole. It’s the sort of interview you’d expect really, but his tone is perhaps a little tougher than usual. Certainly he has some harsh words for all manner of people.
As President of Tallaght Hospital it is perhaps no surprise to discover Mary Harney causes him angst…
[he] says simply that Miss Harney’s tenure as Health Minister will be remembered as ‘disastrous’. Now 65 and retiring on January 25, he refuses to go quietly, lending his support to the growing opposition to plans for a National Children’s Hospital slam in the middle of inner-city Dublin, and insisting that ‘people are longing for a general election’ so they can get rid of Minister Harney and the Greens.
He blames her for the HSE ‘monster’ that has grown up under her watch. ‘The situation over health has deteriorated rapidly. The waiting lists are appalling in accident and emergency. People are on trolleys. I’m very interested that the number of jobs being cut in the HSE is exactly what we were all crying out for but it’s too little too late. ‘Yes, it has to happen. I know it can’t happen overnight, but it should have begun long ago.’
But what of these words on the…er…Green Party;
‘We have had an extraordinary few years because we had a very strange general election in 2007, which gave no definite result. It wasn’t the result I think people voted for because the Greens were all the time going to go the other way.’
In an extraordinary attack on John Gormley’s party, the archbishop says he agrees with the view that they sold out by reneging on many of their preelection promises. He remembers being ‘very upset’ at the Greens dramatic volte face over Shannon being used by the U.S. military.
‘Somehow the Greens managed to do a complete turnaround and stabilise the Fianna Fáil government, and they have stayed there through thick and thin. It’s a very sad thing. It’s not just true of the Green Party, but it is very true of them, power tends to corrupt.’
Dr Neill is also ‘very sad’ at how our sovereignty was ‘diminished in the economic field’ by the IMF/ECB bailout. ‘We are in a mess. There’s a great deal of anger and frustration in society. I know that people are very fearful that things could get worse. ‘I think this coming year is going to be very difficult. And I don’t think it has dawned on people fully what the implications of the Finance Bill are going to be. All we hope is that there is light at the end of the tunnel.’
He says that the finger of blame for the ‘mess we’re in’ can only be pointed at the Government as ‘our own domestic policies were to blame’.
Hmmm… You know, you can read the polls and see that they’re in free fall, but it’s easy to forget that the resentment at the GP exists far beyond the left.
Interesting though too to read his take on matters theological.
[are] Catholics now turning to the Anglican churches because of the abuse cases? ‘I do know that a large number of parishes would have a great number of people who were not cradle Anglicans. There are some definitely, including clergy. There has certainly been a drift that way. There are several clergy in this diocese who were ordained Catholic priests.
Also, there was a time that inter-church marriages all went one way, but almost as a reaction they are all going the other way now. There has been quite a growth in people joining who are not cradle Anglicans.’
But he sees the issues affecting all Churches…
‘As you walk around Dublin now you see very few priests, but we know there are lots of them. So, they are not wearing clerical collars. With the Church of Ireland it’s a lot less, but it has definitely affected us.
I think the institutional churches will take probably quite a knocking – the Church of Ireland as much as the Catholic Church. ‘I think the expression of religious belief and practice will change. We have to find new ways of relating to people. ’
He also believes that Catholic priests should be allowed to marry and confesses that he would have hesitated about his own vocation if family life wasn’t permitted.
‘The fact of the matter is that celibacy has not – throughout Christian history – been compulsory. It’s certainly very much a Roman Catholic rule. We’re also living in a much more sexualised society and celibacy in thatsetting is a much more difficult rule for people to live by.
I see celibacy as having a value but only when voluntarily embraced. Marriage to me is natural. I’m extremely happy family man. I feel that it is enriching of my ministry rather than diminishing of it.’
Does he believe that compulsory celibacy has somehow contributed to sexual abuse among the Catholic clergy?
‘I wouldn’t link it totally with abuse by any means, but I think we all have to realise that sexuality is a very powerful force and when sexualityis repressed it can break out in all sort of strange ways. So, that is something to be reckoned with.
And while his views on abortion will hardly be a surprise either…
‘There are very exceptional cases where I feel abortion is justified. Apart from the medical, I am totally convinced that the rape cases are totally justified. And incest, yes, which is a form of rape, anyway. If it involves a minor it is rape. I’m convinced there are tragic circumstances in which abortion may be the lesser of two evils. But I’m certainly not in favour of abortion as a means of contraception.’
…nor perhaps will his views on same sex marriage. He’s agin.
arguing instead that civil partnership is ‘the way forward’. ‘I do feel that marriage is marriage,’ he says, adding: ‘I’ve always been fairly conservative on this.’ He does not like calling civil partnership marriage ‘because I feel it’s different from marriage. For me marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. But I don’t feel it is undermined by giving similar rights to those in civil partnerships. The official Anglican line is no blessing of civil unions. I think it will change. It will come about eventually, but I don’t think the Church is ready for it yet.’
Though for those of us who remember some contributions to the CofI Gazette over the years it will probably be as well to remind a broader audience that in some parts of Anglicanism this would be a fairly progressive line.
Anyhow, there’s more, but that gives a sense of the article.