THE Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson,
told a colloquium on the legacy of Vatican II that criticism of the
Irish reaction to the Council should be countered with caution,
because sectarianism is still evident in the capital.
"I am well aware of a deep-running psychological trait in the
Church of Ireland of my youth, which overlapped with Vatican II.
What in those days, and until recently, we called 'the two
communities' fed off one another in a way which was often
unacknowledged, and, in another way, utterly unhealthy.
"In the Church of Ireland, many were content to see the Roman
Catholic Church as holding a moral monopoly right across Ireland,
and many in the Roman Catholic Church and in society were happy to
be beneficiaries of this self-granted status", he said.
"With a degree of self-indulgent cynicism, sections of the
Church of Ireland were happy to use this as a moral backdrop while
rejoicing to trumpet their difference." Even today, Dr Jackson
said, "my own experience since returning to work in Dublin is that
sectarianism, although polite in speech and smile, is alive and
well in instinct, and in prejudice.
"It is for this reason that I am particularly slow to agree that
'the bad old days' are behind us. Naïvety helps us in no regard,
least of all in self-understanding."
He acknowledged that the developments which have come about
through the admittedly piecemeal implementation of Vatican II in
Ireland are hard-won, in that they have brought great enrichment to
those who reap their benefits, but that there have been many
tragedies of innocent expectation along the way.
Dr Jackson described Ireland 2013 as a stark place in which to
witness to the presence of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
"There is a strange circularity of predictability about this. If
you speak innocently and confidently about religion, you are deemed
to be sub-intellectual. If you say nothing, then you are widely
understood to stand for nothing worth countenancing, and to be
colluding with secularist reductionism. . .
"Many enjoy their denominational identity - as, indeed, I enjoy
mine. At the same time, I am acutely aware that a divided Christian
witness simply hastens the fragmentation, privatisation, and
compartmentalisation of religion as a compassionate and rigorous
public force for civic society."
His Roman Catholic counter-part, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said that
he believed the time to be ripe for a review of where ecumenical
relations now stand. Noting the deep warmth and friendship be-tween
the two Archbishops in the city, he said that he had been greatly
supported in difficult moments in ministry by two Anglican
THE Irish Constitutional Convention last Sunday
recommended a change in the Irish Constitution to allow civil
marriage for same-sex couples. The move has been welcomed by the
Church of Ireland lobby group for gay people, Changing Attitude
Ireland (CAI). It is also likely to prompt a referendum, as any
change to the Irish Constitution requires.
The co-founder of CAI, Dr Richard O'Leary, said: "The
vote for equality by the Constitutional Convention has shown that
the people of Ireland wish to end the second-class citizenship of
gay and lesbian persons."
During the debate at the Convention on Sunday morning,
Senator Ronan Mullen unsuccessfully sought to make amendments to
the draft ballot expressly to protect religious