Archbishop of Dublin defends pope’s break with tradition

Many read Francis ‘superficially and selectively’, says Martin in Melbourne speech

The willingness of Pope Francis "to break away from accepted traditions" is creating some disquiet within the priesthood, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin has admitted.

Speaking on a visit to Australia, the archbishop referred to a curate in Dublin who was “not at all happy with some of the utterances of Pope Francis, which he felt were not in line with what he had learned in the seminary, and he felt that this was making the faithful insecure and even encouraging those who do not hold the orthodox Catholic belief to challenge traditional teaching”.


pope Dr Martin said hi

s immediate response was that it was the curate whose security was being upset and he was not the only one “upset by the way Pope Francis speaks about some things. There are those who say that he is a communist because of his concern for the poor and his trenchant criticism of some aspects of today’s market economy”.


However, the archbishop concluded that the problem was “with us, with all of us. We all fall into the temptation of reading Pope Francis superficially and selectively”.

For his part Dr Martin was “more enthused by the realism of Pope Francis than the fear and insecurity of that curate”.

Talent for Twitter

In a recent address at the Catholic Leadership Centre in Melbourne, the archbishop continued “all of us are pleased with what Pope Francis says when he says things we like”.

“He has a remarkable talent for the one-liner which instantly strikes us and makes us feel that he is someone who is not afraid to speak the truth clearly. Pope Francis has indeed a remarkable talent to work within the world of Twitter in his ability to fit deep messages into few words.”

But therein lay the problem: “Pope Francis’s thought is more subtle, and when you read his document on the Joy of the Gospel you see that he very quickly nuances about what we wishes to say and very often we do not look at the nuances or take the time to reflect on what he is really striking at.”

The pope had “the courage to break away from accepted traditions and thought patterns, while most of us are trapped in traditions without often fully realising it. One of the reasons for this is that perhaps over the years we have come to have a very conformist and closed Catholicism”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times