Closing Vatican embassy 'a mistake'

 

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has described the Government’s decision to close the Vatican embassy as a “mistake” that he believes will be reversed.

Speaking this evening at the Mater Dei Institute’s Spring Lecture Series, Dr Martin said that he feared that the controversy surrounding the decision had “taken on a life of its own” and was not a debate which was in the best interests of the Church or the Government.

“While I believe that the change in status of the Embassy was a mistake and that it will in time be changed, the current polemic is distracting us from the real challenges of Church State relations and from the real crisis questions facing the Irish Church,” he said.

Dr Martin said that, in the history of Ireland, Church and State have been intertwined “for the good and for the lesser good”, adding that the two would be intertwined in Irish society for many years to come.

“Church and State are separate but not necessarily hostile realities. The challenge is to find a mature interaction which is neither that of being in bed together nor that of living as survivors of a hostile divorce, unable to converse,” he said.

Mr Martin said that it was “very hard to underestimate how much the scandals regarding the sexual abuse of children and the manner in which it was dealt with by Church authorities has wounded the Church in Ireland”.

“The fact that thousands of children were abused within the Church of Jesus Christ in Ireland is a scar that the Church will bear within it for generations to come. There is no way in which what happened to be consigned out of the way into the archives. The lessons of what happened and how it happened are a vital key to our looking forward to and building the future with hope.”

Dr Martin said that the Church must constantly reform itself, adding that there was a genuine enthusiasm for renewal among priests, diocesan and religious.

“The results are already being seen. Attendance at Sunday Mass may be falling but enthusiasm is certainly not missing and for example over the Christmas period attendances were significantly higher than in the past.

He added that the upcoming occasion of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which will be held here in Dublin in June 2012 was a unique opportunity for renewal of the Christian life.

“To the surprise of its critics the Eucharistic Congress is taking shape as a genuine moment of renewal in the Church,” he said.