Prelate warns Church leaders to mind language on marriage

Dublin’s archbishop has warned Church leaders not to use insensitive and over-judgemental language in debates on marriage and family.

Speaking in a Lenten talk in Country Kerry, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s warning also extended to those he called the Church’s “self-appointed spokespeople”.

“Where the Church argues from general principles, there is inevitably the feeling on the part of others that it is somehow against the concrete individual men and women who have a different viewpoint,” the archbishop said.

“This is made more complex if Church leaders, or self-appointed Church spokespersons, use language which is insensitive and over judgmental,” he added.

The Church must voice its criticism “in language which respects her Master, Jesus Christ”, he explained.

Jesus “never criticised those with whom he may have disagreed about their morals, except with those who were hypocritical . . .”.

Archbishop Martin observed that “all too often the hypocrites in Jesus’ judgement, it is clear in the Gospels, were the religious leaders”.

Archbishop Martin said he is struck by the way Pope Francis operates, in contrast to the model he had just outlined.

“Pope Francis seems to be able to speak clearly about doctrine, and yet respect and embrace those who cannot find their way to follow that doctrine,” the archbishop said.

“His starting point is usually not that of being head of the Catholic Church, but that of being a sinner.”

Pope Francis, he said, “has the ability to see that truth and mercy are not mutually exclusive in absolutist terms”.

“Pope Francis does not think in the black and white categories that we tend to.

“He sees that most of us live in the grey areas of life where compromise may often be almost inevitable.”

Archbishop Martin cited the way Francis sees Christians who may live together before marriage, or who live in civil marriages.

The Pope sees that such persons “may indeed share more of the vision of Christian marriage than we often think”, the archbishop said.

“We will attain more by reaching out to them rather than by simply condemning.”

In May, Ireland is to have a referendum on legal same-sex marriage.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,