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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s comments were misrepresented

In her recent article, Martin needs to offer hope and solutions (Jul 27), Patricia Casey — commenting on his recent MacGill Summer School address — criticises the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, claiming he “seems to find it very hard to talk about the Catholic Church in an upbeat way”.

Dr Casey seems to have conveniently forgotten, for example, Archbishop Martin’s recent talks at the Eucharistic Congress which contained anything but “downbeat” language.

She also expressed the hope “the next time Archbishop Martin gives a speech, he needs to tell people why they should become Catholic Christians and instead of merely analysing the problems we face, tell us what he intends doing about them”.

She might have looked at the indications given in the very same MacGill address on how the Church can provide the spiritual energies needed to respond to named and specific challenges in today’s society. One response indicated by the Archbishop was adult religious education “of such a level that it treats men and women as adults, addressing the questions which adult Christians have to face as they live their faith in today’s world”. Hardly a lack of challenge!

Dr Casey, however, devoted much space in her article to one particular sentence of Archbishop Martin which she grossly misrepresented. The Archbishop said that many of those who present themselves today for the seminaries were “fragile and some much more traditional than those who went before them.”

Nowhere did he accuse seminarians, and much less priests, of being “fragile”, as Dr Casey expounded on at length. The Archbishop’s actual comments on priests today — again in the same MacGill address — would indicate the opposite: “Being a priest today is following a lonely and unsettling furrow, but the vast majority of priests know that they have the human and spiritual resources to face those realities. If any group has faced and existentially lived through the crisis that the Church is experiencing in Ireland and have led the path to turning the corner of renewal it is priests.” Hardly an achievement of the fragile!

Accurate accounts of what Archbishop Martin actually said are available in full at www.dublindiocese.ie.

Annette O’Donnell

Director of Communications

Archdiocese of Dublin

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