Archbishop's Rimini address


Madam, – For Dr Diarmuid Martin to say in Rimini this week that many Irish Catholics remain “theologically illiterate” is hurtful (Home News, August 25th).

Where does the fault for this lie? The Dublin Diocesan Women’s Forum, inaugurated by Cardinal Desmond Connell and the Diocesan Council of Priests, in 1996 engaged in an extensive consultation in almost every parish to ascertain what women saw as the area most in need of attention in the diocese. The area identified was that of adult religious education. Consequently, the forum formally requested in its paper Nurturing the Faith of the Pilgrim Peoplethat centres of theological education, financed and staffed by the diocese, be established in each of the five areas manned by the auxiliary bishops. There was no response.

We, as women elected by women from a wonderful diversity of backgrounds and roles in all the parishes, spent precious time travelling to parish, deanery, and diocesan meetings in Drumcondra, for a “dialogue” that was in reality a one-way conversation – ours. This time could have been usefully spent obtaining doctorates in theology. It was time wasted and leaves disillusionment followed by a deep sadness that the “literates” have the church in Ireland in such a sorry state today.

Can someone explain why these “literates” didn’t communicate and share their theological knowledge for the good of all the people of God in our diocese? – Yours, etc,


Trees Road,

Mount Merrion, Co Dublin


Sutton’s Lane,


Kilternan, Co Dublin.

Madam, – Paddy Agnew (“Support for archbishop belies way he has been written off at home”, Home News August 25th) fails to mention that the support for the archbishop comes from the group AGM of Communion and Liberation (CL), with whom the Archbishop has had a long association going back many years. It is akin to saying that a Fianna Fáil minister got great support at a Fianna Fáil ard fheis; hardly surprising.

Mr Agnew then tells us that “church observers” – whoever they are – this week have emphasised that the reinstatement of the two Dublin bishops by the Pope in “no way represents a vote of no confidence in Archbishop Martin”.

Really? Why then did Archbishop Martin not make himself available to the Irish media to say as much and answer legitimate questions arising from the resignations? Instead he chose to mention the resignations as a three-line afterthought in a three- page letter released only to clergy, in August, when evidence suggests that the decision was made by the Vatican months before?

Having announced the resignations on Christmas Eve last, surely the now reinstated bishops deserved an equally public announcement, yet the archbishop went on holidays, not even telling his brother bishops about the Vatican decision. And finally, why did the Vatican not announce the decision with a note of support for Archbishop Martin knowing quite well that the decision would be seen as a rebuke to the archbishop? The numbers for the “church observers” line just don’t stack up.

We are also told by Mr Agnew in his news article “Primate criticises poor quality of debate”, with no hint of irony, that Archbishop Martin speaking to crowds of CL members in Italy, complained about the low bar in Catholic intellectual debate in Ireland.

How can we Catholics have a quality debate when our archbishop, who has dismissed the democratic notion of a diocesan synod, regularly engages in megaphone criticisms of his priests, his own youth ministry, the Catholic press, his fellow bishops; refuses to name alleged “strong forces” at work in the church and leaves the country refusing interviews rather than allow any intelligent questioning of himself or his current policies and strategic direction for the Dublin Diocese.

President McAleese rightly praised Archbishop Martin for his leadership in dealing with child sexual abuse. The church is moving on and so must Archbishop Martin’s style of leadership which seems implacably wedded to the easy soundbite and stubbornly refuses to open itself to legitimate scrutiny, which all others in public life now accept as necessary in a modern society. – Yours, etc,



The Irish Catholic,

Bluebell, Dublin 12.