Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The clarity of his teaching makes me glad to be a Dubliner...

... and even gladder to be a Catholic. Not.

This story courtesy of Novus Ordo Catholic World News, and is Melancholicus’ first hosting of a story from that source since it was ‘renewed’ by its owners back in August:

Irish archbishop denies disagreement within hierarchy on civil partnerships

December 01, 2008

After Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that the Irish episcopal conference had not expressed an opinion on proposed legislation allowing civil partnerships for same-sex couples, the Irish Times saw "significant differences" between Ireland's two leading Catholic prelates on the issue. Archbishop Martin took issue with that analysis.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh had earlier delivered a stern warning against legislation that could undermine traditional marriage. Archbishop Martin said that other bishops agreed with the cardinal but "may have said it in different ways." The Dublin archbishop added that while opposing same-sex marriage, Church leaders were "not against other forms of intimacy." The Irish Times saw "significant differences of emphasis" in the archbishop's statement.

In a prompt reply to the Irish Times, Archbishop Martin decried what he said was "false interpretation" of his public remarks, and emphasized that he was "supportive of the basic content of Cardinal Brady's position." The archbishop went on to say that the relevant Christian teaching begins with an emphasis on the fundamental importance of marriage, but added: "I am fully aware of the need to protect the rights of a variety of people in caring and dependent relationships, different to marriage."

The offending article by Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs correspondent for the Irish Times:

Bishops differ over emphasis on civil unions

PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent

SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES of emphasis among Ireland's Catholic bishops on the Civil Partnership Bill have emerged.

Yesterday, the Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev Diarmuid Martin said that, while he didn't feel any of his fellow bishops were opposed to what Cardinal Seán Brady said about the Bill at the recent Céifin conference in Ennis, they might have said it differently.

"We haven't expressed an opinion as an Episcopal Conference (on the Bill)," he said. "I don't think anyone in the conference is against what Cardinal Brady said, but they may have said it in different ways."

The Archbishop also said that while the Catholic Church favoured marriage, "it is not against other forms of intimacy".

Catholic teaching "is linked to the complementarity of the sexes", he said, "and this was not something it was possible for any individual to change. It is part of the order of things since Creation." He noted that while "the Catholic Church is in favour of marriage, it is not against other forms of intimacy". He added that "consistently, all Christian churches emphasise the uniqueness of marriage based on the complementarity of the sexes", but they addressed other forms of intimacy on other bases.

Archbishop Martin was speaking at a press conference in Maynooth yesterday which was also attended by the Bishop of Down and Connor, Most Rev Noel Traenor. It took place as the three-day winter meeting of the Irish Episcopal Conference was under way. It ends today.

In his address to the Céifin conference on November 4th, Cardinal Brady indicated that the Government could face a legal challenge if the Civil Partnership Bill became law. "Those who are committed to the probity of the Constitution, to the moral integrity of the word of God and to the precious human value of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of society may have to pursue all avenues of legal and democratic challenge to the published legislation if this is the case," he said.

The Bill was "perhaps the greatest revolution in the history of the Irish family" and the Government was obliged by the Constitution to guard the institution of marriage "with special care", he said.

The Civil Partnership Bill is expected to become law next year and will give greater protection to cohabiting and same-sex couples in areas such as pensions, inheritance and tax. Cardinal Brady said a complete assessment could not be made until the legislation was published, but that it appeared the Government was prepared to grant to cohabiting and same-sex couples the status of marriage in all but name. Apart from the restrictions on adoption by same-sex couples, "it is difficult to see how anything other than the introduction of de facto marriage for cohabiting and same-sex couples is envisaged", he said.

The cardinal said he found it "remarkable" that "Ireland looks set to repeat the mistakes of societies like Britain and the US by introducing legislation which will promote cohabitation, remove most incentives to marry and grant same-sex couples the same rights as marriage in all but adoption".

He said one in four children of cohabiting parents experienced family breakdown before they started school, compared to just one in 10 children of married parents. "Other studies in Britain and the US suggest that children born outside of marriage are more likely to do worse at school, suffer poorer health and are more likely to face problems of unemployment, drugs and crime," he said.

What was it Melancholicus said yesterday about his local ordinary? If memory serves me rightly, I believe it included the words ‘equivocating’, ‘double-tongued’, ‘politicised’ and ‘careerist’ among sundry other unflattering epithets. But whatever else might be said against Melancholicus on that account, he cannot be accused of having not given all sides in this instance a fair hearing. So he invites his readers to decide. Was Mr. McGarry, or was he not, justified in drawing the inferences he did after his Grace’s ambiguous ramblings on marriage and sexual intimacy at that press conference in Maynooth? The answer to this question hinges on whether his Grace of Dublin expressed himself and expounded Catholic teaching on the subject clearly and forthrightly; my lord archbishop’s words were obviously so clear and forthright as to necessitate the sending perforce to D’Olier street of a letter exculpating himself of any pastoral negligence in an attempt to explain his position.

His Grace of Dublin’s response, in the letters section of the same newspaper:

Archbishop and civil unions

Madam, - I have received a number of calls from people who feel that my remarks, as presented in your report of November 26th, "Bishops differ over emphasis on civil unions", seem to indicate that I do not accept Catholic teaching on marriage.

I was responding to a series of questions from journalists regarding a variety of aspects of the forthcoming Civil Partnership Bill. It is possible that the manner in which my different remarks appeared may have given rise to false interpretation.

While saying that I might have addressed the theme differently, I did clearly say that I was supportive of the basic content of Cardinal Brady's position on the Bill and of his comments at the recent Céifin conference.

Above all my remarks wished to stress that the Christian teaching on marriage, rather than starting out from negative criticisms, is a positive endorsement of the unique and irreplaceable contribution to society made by the family based on marriage, that is, on the mutual and exclusive love of husband and wife.

While stressing, as I have consistently done, the Christian teaching on the mutuality of the sexes as fundamental to the understanding of marriage, I am fully aware of the need to protect the rights of a variety of people in caring and dependent relationships, different to marriage.

Unfortunately, some members of the public and some public commentators seize on such comments and concern as an opportunity to say that I advocate positions in conflict with Catholic teaching. For my part, I regret if my comments may have appeared unclear. On the other hand, the contrived polemic of such commentators does little to promote marriage and its value to society.

- Yours, etc,

Archbishop DIARMUID MARTIN, Archbishop's House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

His Grace’s statesmanlike composure slips in the closing sentence, his self-control having clearly been stretched to its absolute limit, enabling us to catch a quick glimpse of the fury beneath. He refers, scathingly, to ‘such commentators’, in the plural. Obviously his pique has been roused by others besides Mr. McGarry alone. Who are these others? Catholic bloggers and news agencies, both at home and abroad, most likely. At this stage this story has gone all around the world, and his Grace is clearly furious that he has been publicly exposed in an evasive and calculating dodge worthy of Rowan Williams so shamelessly misrepresented.

“For my part, I regret if my comments may have appeared unclear. On the other hand, the contrived polemic of such commentators does little to promote marriage and its value to society.”

May have appeared unclear? There’s no may about it, dear Diarmuid. Your words were unclear, period. Stop trying to cover your arrogant arse and admit your fault. Had you the humility to do that, we would hold you in a new respect. But alas, one can’t teach old dogs...

And what about the contrived polemic? You have some cheek, dear Diarmuid. You tried to straddle both sides of the fence. You tried to please both parties—your flock and your secularist enemies—simultaneously. It didn’t work, and the fault is your own. In case it may have escaped your attention, permit me to remind you that your appointment to the See of Dublin makes you one of the two most senior leaders of the Catholic Church on this island. Do the words ‘Primate of Ireland’ hold any meaning for you? You have a great power to influence others, for good or for ill, and it is disgraceful—not to say demoralising—for Christ’s faithful to behold their bishop, their archbishop, the shepherd of their Church, playing games with semantics and dodging urgent questions of doctrine and morals with the brazen aplomb of a lying politician, all simply to avoid a few days’ critique at the hands of the outraged and anti-catholic press. I don’t know why you went to the effort; surely you knew it was inevitable you would have been criticised by someone. If you had taught forthrightly, we would not have lambasted you with our ‘contrived polemic’; the other side would have. But which is better? To please your flock and enrage the enemies of Jesus Christ, or vice versa? Personally, I think you made the wrong choice. I seem to remember something in the Gospels along the lines of “woe to you when the world shall speak well of you...”, and all that. But you might disagree; well, it’s your prerogative.

Furthermore, dear Diarmuid, since when is it up to ‘such commentators’ to ‘promote marriage and its value to society’? We do so when we can, certainly. In fact we are doing it now by offering you our criticism, since you are not doing it yourself. You are the archbishop. Is it not your job vigorously to promote Catholic morals, including the unpopular teaching on marriage and sexuality?

That having been said, I guess I just bagged myself 8,000 points. Cheers, Diarmuid.

1 comment:

Commentator said...

Excellent analysis of that most slippery of prelates. Well done.