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Interview with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin… December 22, 2012

Posted 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.


1. steve white - December 22, 2012

ah the old good cop, bad cop reoutine between martin and other bishops, he’s the same as the rest protecting a corrupt organisation


2. Hank Tree - December 22, 2012

Martin is a credit to the church in Ireland.


3. Seamus Breathnach - September 7, 2013

Another Irish phoney full of ballyhooooooo…..


4. Jim Monaghan - September 7, 2013

No friend of Church but they are opposing war in Syria. Perhpas they know more than Obama


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