Interview with Archbishop Martin – Part Two December 23, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Religion.
… from today’s Mail on Sunday, and again part of a series conducted by Jason O’Toole. Those assuming any nascent liberalism in his message would be sorely disappointed – which on one level is fair enough. You don’t get to be Archbishop in the current period through an inclination to the heterodox. But it is interesting how he has been portrayed as a softer voice than those heard in the past. That may well be true, but the song remains the same.
[and] what about those in the Church who either covered up cases of abuse or turned a blind eye. Do they have questions to answer here? ‘We had in the archdiocese of Dublin a small number of serial paedophiles who did immense damage and they should have been stopped at the early stages. I honestly believe that mistakes were made somehow or other, that these people deceived people and played on divisions.
The state of the RCC in Ireland?
Dr Martin acknowledges that, in the wake of the scandals, the Church faces an uphill struggle to encourage people to return to Mass. It’s one of his major concerns for the New Year. ‘If I were to get out a graph it would show the number of people attending Mass is going down and the number of young people attending Mass is going down. If I were in business, the shareholders would probably be saying, “You’ve got the wrong man in there.” You’re facing this situation and you have to try and give leadership. On the other hand, you know your own limitations.’
When I broach the subject, the Archbishop says: ‘There are times when popular opinion may not be right. Morality can’t be built simply on public opinion polls. Parliamentarians are not elected to be herded; you give them a mandate to do what is best for the country. Sometimes, they should be able to stand up to their political leadership and even populist opinion.
‘Marriage is something quite unique. There’s an enrichment of the relationship between a man and a woman that is unique. From a Christian point of view, from the very beginnings in the Scriptures, it says the image of God can be mirrored in male and female. That doesn’t necessarily mean that gay and lesbian people don’t have rights that have to be protected. It isn’t in denying marriage that they become second-class citizens.’
The issue of the Catholic Church handing schools back to the State will be at the forefront of debate next year, too. Will the Church be seeking financial compensation? ‘It’s a very complex question. Take, for example a school run by a religious congregation. There was support by the Government, by the local community and by the religious congregation, who’ve put a lot of money and effort back into a school – how is that to be compensated? They may have to maintain a large number of elderly religious and so on. Some recognition of that is part of it.
…for Dr Martin, the Church’s position is not negotiable. ‘There are two lives here and we must do everything we can to ensure that we deliver both safely,’ he says. ‘We were all unborn children at some stage. At that stage, all the potential that was in us was there. We should be able to look towards a situation that stresses the protection of both, as far as possible.’
Again, the language is more emollient. But…
Does he believe the Government will have blood on its hands if the legislation is enacted? ‘That’s not the language that I use,’ he says. ‘But I do say that all legislators should look from a moral point of view at the fact that we can work to ensure that both mother and child can survive, if possible. If a pregnancy is actually a threat, I think there are ways of dealing with that. The Constitution at the moment is about the equal protection for mother and child. If we lose that, I think we are losing something very significant.’
And it is interesting to note his response when given the example of slightly less abstract circumstances:
What about specific cases when an expectant mother could die if her pregnancy is not terminated? ‘You can’t legislate for every case. I believe the tight pro-life situation, that we’ve had in Ireland has actually driven the medical profession to reach a very high standard. By relaxing that, things could be different. All the indications are that cases like that are very rare. The fact is, the level of maternal mortality in Ireland is one of the lowest. I’m not too sure that changing the law will actually improve that. ‘There are always going to be cases where something happens, either the child is lost or, very rarely, the mother is lost. They are real tragedies. But we have the ability to continually to do better in those cases – to ensure healthy life for the mother and for the baby that’s being born. If we weaken that, then we are deciding that one life is more important than the other.
Politically there’s also a certain… well, read on…
How well does Dr Martin feel the current Government is serving society? ‘There’s a big political challenge. You don’t know who you are voting for any more because the likelihood of any parliament is that there will be a coalition.
You vote for one party and for its programme and then, when they don’t live up to that programme, you’re told: “Well, really what we are doing is the Government programme; it’s when we came together.” ‘This will bring a certain disillusionment with politics. You ask the other question – were the original aims realistic or were they simply promises or do they make plans that are possible but they know that they are never going to be realised because they’re going into a coalition?’
And this isn’t exactly the option for the poor…
‘I understand that it’s very difficult to write a budget and spend more when money isn’t there. But these across-the-board cuts are also pretty blunt instruments. You have to have some way of measuring. They should be constantly doing this, where the cuts are hurting more than they should be and where they are hurting the disadvantaged.’
A safe pair of hands? Yes, indeed.
Interview with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin… December 22, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Religion.
…by Jason O’Toole in the Mail. Some food for thought, this being more the colour piece as it’s a two parter, and tomorrows instalment promises his thoughts on the X case, same sex marriages and a church in crisis. As will be well known he’s the brother of Seamus Martin former Moscow correspondent of the Irish Times (and IIRC someone who wasn’t unsympathetic to the WP).
He had an ordinary working class background
Their father worked as a mechanic for CIÉ, but the Archbishop remembers the family constantly struggling. ‘Financially struggling, housing struggling, it was pretty rough,’ he says. ‘It was very hard to get a house at the time, [my parents] were pretty poor. ‘I moved to Ballyfermot when I was five, but before that we were living in pretty rough conditions with relatives because there was no housing. Then these new areas were built and people moved out to them, most of them from very similar conditions. ‘We lived opposite a pub and you had the problem on a Friday night of people spending their wages before they even got home. People built up lives for themselves and their children, but there was no luxury, there wasn’t very much around.
And while clearly compassionate there’s a sense that he’s in no way the liberal he’s sometimes portrayed as. Orthodox is the term that comes to mind.Even on the issue of marriage – while he admits he himself would have liked to have been a father:
[he] is, however, against the concept of priests being able to marry. ‘At the moment I would not be rushing to say it should change. Listening to bishops around the world, I don’t think there’s a great desire just now to change the law of celibacy. ‘When I’m ordaining a deacon I say to them: “Are you prepared to remain celibate for the rest of your life? For the sake of the kingdom?” And you’re looking at a man made of flesh and blood and it’s a huge commitment. If they lose that fundamental commitment then the celibacy becomes a burden.’
There are some fairly straightforward thoughts too, not quite motherhood and apple pie, but…
Archbishop Martin believes that we lost our way during the Celtic Tiger boom years when ‘people became more selfish’. In his Christmas message this year, the Archbishop will be urging his congregation to rebuild stronger relationships with neighbours, particularly the elderly and most vulnerable, in an effort to restore a community spirit that he feels is lacking.
None of that is incorrect, but it wasn’t the CT’s fault by a long shot. I’m sure many of us have heard same our entire adult lives, and long predating the CT.
‘We have to refine the simplicity of Christmas, especially for children,’ says Archbishop Martin. ‘There’s a great thrill for children to get toys but I do think we should be going back to something more simple, and also things that have an educational value. ‘It may sound a bit old-fashioned or square to say something like that, but there can be ways of being much more constructive. ‘You see this in schools with children in Nativity plays and so on, this represents to a great extent a lot of the simplicity of Christmas. I think they are the things children will remember — they won’t remember the huge toys that break down very soon.’
I have to admit to really enjoying O’Toole’s rather laconic segue from the above paragraph:
Another thing children would remember would be a papal visit. I ask whether, as a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop thinks that there’s a possibility that he might visit Ireland? ‘The Pope is getting old so his trips are being limited. This year he’s going to World Youth Day in Latin America. There was a real possibility of it being the first time that a Pope didn’t go to a World Youth Day. It’s a huge event and they’re expecting four million young people in Rio de Janeiro and he decided to go. I think that will limit his possibility of [coming to Ireland].’
And what of this?
I ask if it’s true that his brother Seamus is actually an atheist and whether Archbishop Martin thinks that there is a place in heaven for non-believers? ‘I hope we’ll meet up there, both of us,’ he says. ‘We can talk with certainty about all sort of things, or we think we can. There’s two things we can’t talk with certainty about — what dying is about and then what happens after death? You’ve never spoken to a person about what it means to die. ‘We’ve all observed death, we’ve been with people when they die, but this is something that comes afterwards. In faith you can have an understanding of what it is, but the afterlife is something about an encounter with God, which enlightens who you were in a way that isn’t blurred by the things we think about.
Here’s hoping. Tomorrow’s piece should make for even more interesting reading.
Science and anti-science, Catholicism, and… oh yeah, Mars. November 22, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Astronomy, Religion, Science, Uncategorized.
It’s interesting to hear news from the United States that up and coming Republican contender Marco Rubio has been explicitly saying in a GQ magazine interview that he doesn’t know whether the earth is 4.54 billion years old. Actually it’s even worse than that because he slips into a discourse rooted in the Bible.
Q: How old do you think the Earth is?
A: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Er… no, no it’s not a mystery at all. The research and theoretical basis for asserting that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old is solid.
Actually it’s arguably even worse than that again because Rubio, as it happens, is a Catholic and whatever else about the Catholic Church, and boy are we seeing it in some respects at its most unlovely at the moment in this state, it has never been shy in the modern period about integrating scientific theories and concepts into its worldview. In other words the Catholic Church accepts the science on the age of the Earth, the universe and so on. Though interestingly – to me at least – it adds its own spin as regards believing is a process guided by God. Tricky one that.
At a stretch so, one could say that in terms of science on the big ticket items it gets it particularly right, whereas on the smaller more human scale as we’ve seen… well… anyway.
Now, as noted here in the past, there have been some wobbles, a certain tone entering the discourse which is troubling. And perhaps in the super-heated context of US political activity, in a state where 58 per cent of Republicans and 46 per cent of US citizens claim to believe in creationism (as noted in the NYT by Juliet Lapidos) – statistics that are stunning in their own way.
But one wonders is this a straw in the wind as regards unreason. The list of Catholic creationist organisations and lobbies appears to be increasing – many are US based, but not all, and tellingly some are allied with ‘traditionalist’ views. In that context perhaps Rubio’s remarks are suddenly more explicable, in that lamentably creationist views are gaining a wider currency. And closer to home there’s more than a hint of the broader environment within which these beliefs flourish from Alive!
Meanwhile in Slate there’s a
good [no it's not, on reflection I read it too quickly and as smiffy says it's disingenuous] piece on how this discourse distorts even Obama’s responses, albeit not to anything like the same degree – where he too fudges on the age of the universe, while giving a sterling performance in regards to supporting evolution.
But what sort of a pass have we reached?
And as for Mars, also from Slate, seems like the Curiosity rover may have found something very interesting there. Very interesting indeed. Though they’re not saying what. Yet.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are keeping their lips sealed for the time being while they run additional tests to make sure the discovery holds up. That, however, hasn’t stopped one of the mission’s leaders from speculating loudly that it’ll be one that rewrites at least some of what we know about the universe.
“This data is gonna be one for the history books,” John Grotzinger, the rover mission’s principal investigator, told NPR last week for a the buzz-inciting segment that aired today. ”It’s looking really good.”
If you look through the comments you’ll find some entertaining suggestions as to what has been found. Tongue in cheek, I have to add.
Rubio and NASA. There one has it, a sort of dichotomy between world views, between abstractions and actual events both on this world and an immediate neighbour.
Saudi Arabia: Executing Witches in 2011 December 13, 2011Posted by Garibaldy in Reaction, Religion.
Unbelievable news on the BBC website that Saudi Arabia has executed a woman for “witchcraft and sorcery” by beheading. That’s the second person executed there for witchcraft this year, the other one being a Sudanese man. As in the past, it seems people at the margins of society are being victimised by the forces of social conservatism and religious reaction using witchcraft. I am so glad that the leading democracies in the world, who have been spending so much money and blood on bringing democracy to places it is lacking keep such a close eye on Saudi Arabia, and are doubtless planning to act on this as we speak.
More on the Lux Occulta Archive… June 20, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish History, Irish Politics, Religion.
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As ever, it’s well worth keeping an eye on the Lux Occulta Archive which deals with all things Irish and Catholic. Some recent additions that may be of particular interest to readers here include the following:
Lux Occulta Archive… May 10, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Irish Politics, Religion, The Left.
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More interesting material from the archive at Lux Occulta that deals with all things Irish and Catholic and is becoming most comprehensive. Shane has a number of additions that will be of particular interest to those of us on the left…
Shane notes that:
I’m currently transcribing the Letter of the Spanish hierarchy during the Civil War and the response of the Irish hierarchy. It’s quite long but it should definitely be done this week.
As ever many thanks to him and do take a look.
More from the Lux Occulta Archive March 28, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Religion, The Left.
Here’s more documents from the fascinating Lux Occulta blog and its attendant archive which deals with documentation from the Catholic Church in Ireland.
These are just a sample of documents that engage with Communism, but to be honest the broader material is of equal interest.
The Irish Rosary from July/August 1953 - article on Science Under Communism, page 593
Well worth a regular look.
The Lux Occulta Archive… February 14, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Religion, The Left.
Another selection of documents from the fascinating Lux Occulta blog and its attendant archive which deals with the Catholic Church in Ireland and its history that will have considerable interest to a wide readership.
There’s the Irish Monthly with an article on the 1st Indochina War that will be of interest, Rev. Con Lucey (later Bishop of Cork and Ross) on ‘A Christian Alternative to Communism and Fascism’. More in the same vein in the pamphlet entitled ‘Communism – A Will O’ The Wisp’. There’s also Bishop Browne’s pastoral on ‘The Worship of the State’, and the Irish Ecclesiastical Record which has, as Shane notes an obscure article on French Revolution on pgs 392-401.
It’s a treasure trove of documents from across the 20th century, that are neatly positioned in terms of time and place.
Shane’s trojan work at Lux Occulta shouldn’t go unnoticed, it’s a genuine resource that is growing on a weekly basis. Well worth a regular look.
More on Catholicism and Socialism October 11, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in Irish History, Reaction, Religion.
Last week we had a link to Shane’s new blog where he had posted up Fr. Kane’s lectures attacked by Connolly in Labour, Nationality and Religion. This week he has come up with a lot more goodies drawn from Catholic pamphlets on socialism, Marxism and Communism.
Communism from the Inside from ex-Communist Douglas A. Hyde.
And two parts of a multi-part series by Father John Meagher on Communism: Its Foundations, Aims and Claims.
The Land of Make-Believe (an interesting title for someone who believes in the supernatural some might say).
Thanks once again to Shane for all this.
Christoper Hitchens v Religious Talk Show Host October 5, 2010Posted by Garibaldy in Religion.
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Picked this up from Johnny Guitar over at Your Friend in the North. It is, as he says, possibly the worst interview ever, but somewhat entertaining. Seems to be about 18 months old. Worth the fifteen minutes or so for parts one and two.