The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has expressed concern at "a growing polarisation within the Catholic Church and by certain groups who seem to think that they have a right, self-righteously, to proclaim threats in the name of how they understand the truth".
He continued: “We have seen examples in our own days. The truth will only be attained in love. Error will only be refuted in love. Nastiness and hatred betray the message of love.”
The Archbishop was addressing young people at the Emmaus Centre in Swords, Co Dublin, on Sunday where they had gathered for a "Panama in Dublin" Mass to coincide with World Youth Day in Panama, attended by Pope Francis and 30 young people from the archdiocese.
"The Christian message is a message that preaches and practises goodness and love," Archbishop Martin told them.
*Last week, the venue for a talk by Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan on women and the Catholic Church was changed because of threats.
Ms Madigan led the Fine Gael campaign last year for a Yes vote in the May referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which recognised the equal right to life of mother and unborn.
Her talk at the Mercy International Association in Dublin last week, hosted by the liberal Catholic We Are Church group, was to be on "Why the Catholic Church should open all ministries to women".
It was moved to an unnamed Dublin hotel on February 11th following a letter from Sr Mary Reynolds, chief executive of Mercy International Association.
Addressed to We Are Church, Sr Reynolds said that "threats have been made of busloads of protestors being brought to the site and two parishes have indicated that they speak on behalf of parishioners", and that "there has been some vitriolic comment and at least one of our staff has been intimidated by a caller".
Sr Reynolds added that many of the representations referred to Ms Madigan’s “connection with the abortion referendum and Bill” and apologised for “reluctantly” making the venue unavailable.
Last week Archbishop Martin was also accused of “abdicating his responsibility” as a moral leader in the run-up to the May referendum last year.
Renua candidate for North-West Midlands the next European elections in May, Michael O'Dowd, said "I believe he has abdicated his responsibility as a leader of the Catholic Church and silenced a potentially powerful voice for the most defenceless of all – the unborn child."
He demanded that the archbishop state how he voted in the referendum.
On Thursday, May 17th last, a week prior to the referendum, Archbishop Martin said, in a lengthy statement giving his reasons: “I will be voting No.”
*The article was amended at 6.17pm on January 28th, 2019