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‘Sectarianism is still alive in Dublin’

19 April 2013

PA

Ecumenical witness: Dr Michael Jackson (left) and the RC Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Diarmuid Martin, carry s cross through the city on Good Friday, last month

Ecumenical witness: Dr Michael Jackson (left) and the RC Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Diarmuid Martin, carry s cross through the city o...

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 archbishops.

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 freedom.

 

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