Diarmuid Martin welcomes FG free vote on abortion amendment

Archbishop of Dublin restates church opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage

 Archbishop of Dublin  Diarmuid Martin said the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy was an opportunity for the church to renew itself “through being more and more a place where people can experience mercy and forgiveness”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy was an opportunity for the church to renew itself “through being more and more a place where people can experience mercy and forgiveness”. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The decision by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to allow Fine Gael TDs a free vote on the proposed repeal of the constitutional amendment on abortion has been welcomed by the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

“I think that the whip system in Irish politics is far too restrictive. One example I always give on this - the death penalty.

Margaret Thatcher on more than one occasion tried to reintroduce the death penalty. The indications were that she had immense popular support, but the parliamentarians said no, using their own responsibility and conscience,” he said.

He wasn’t sure what the proposed citizen’s convention on the issue would involve but repeated what he recalled saying at the MacGill School in Glenties three years ago. “The Church would not change its position on two things - and that was on gay marriage and on abortion, and that is still the church’s position. Not just in Ireland, not just by me, but around the world,” he said.

Alcohol pricing

As regards minimum pricing for alcohol, he said there is “a growing awareness that we have an alcohol problem in Ireland. If you say it too loud, you’ll be told you’re a spoilsport.

“I think the Minister for Health is showing how serious it is. But it is a cultural problem.” Irish people, he said, “should be able to have celebrations that are not alcohol-driven”, he said.

He was unsure whether sports advertising was appropriate for young people, but said “it obviously brings in a lot of money, and the makers of alcohol would only do it if there was a lot of money in it”.

Mercy and forgiveness

The Archbishop was speaking to media at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin following the opening of the Holy Door there, marking the beginning of the church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was an opportunity for the church to renew itself “through being more and more a place where people can experience mercy and forgiveness”, he said.

He continued: “Too many men, women and children in our day have not experienced the church in that way.”

It had “been quick to judge. We have created a harsh God and left the troubled scrupulous and guilt-ridden,” he said.

“We have to reinvent many of the aspects of our presence in Irish society. We have to free our hearts from the desire to control and never try to hide a yearning to control behind our interpretation of the teaching of Jesus.”