Church’s attitude to women condemned

A FORMER government minister has lambasted the Catholic Church’s attitude to women, as the fallout from the Murphy report continues.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the report, Fianna Fáil TD Mary O’Rourke said the Church had lost affinity with its people, not least because of its “extraordinary” attitude to women.

“It is as if we were a race apart or dirty people, only to be tolerated because we have the wombs to have the children, we give birth to them, enrol them in primary schools and have them come out of those schools as good children of the faith.”

Ms O’Rourke also criticised the Vatican and the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, for failing to respond to requests for information from the Murphy Commission.

“Consider the discourtesy of it, and the discourtesy of the head of the Vatican, parading around Ireland in his wonderful glitzy clothes, but not replying to letters and not seeing fit to talk to his counterpart, whoever that is. It is just not good enough,” she said.

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte said the Church had “feigned a lack of appreciation of the abuse phenomenon” right up to the publication of the Murphy report. “Yet in the mid-1980s, they were sufficiently aware to set about the taking-out of insurance to protect the archdiocese.”

Even now, the Church was still trying to evade responsibility, he added.

“The bishops seem to be measuring what they can get away with. They seem to misunderstand the earthquake they have set off in society. The Vatican is silent. The Papal Nuncio is contemptuous. Whatever happens, this is the end of the age of deference,” he said.

Green TD Ciaran Cuffe said it was no longer appropriate that Church representatives chair state institutions.

“It came to my attention recently that the Archbishop of Dublin is the chairperson of the National Maternity Hospital. It is time to move on from that, because it is not appropriate for a representative of the Church to chair such a hospital or many other state institutions. We have to examine carefully the possibility of putting in place an alternative mechanism for these institutions,” Mr Cuffe said.

Children’s Minister Barry Andrews said steps were being taken to improve the Health Service Executive’s audit of the Catholic dioceses.

The Government would await the outcome of that audit before deciding whether it was necessary to extend the terms of reference of the Murphy Commission to take in dioceses other than Dublin, he said.


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