Irish Catholicism being abandoned to extremists: Priest

Catholicism in Ireland is being abandoned to obsessive extremists, a leading priest has said.

Fr Brendan Hoban also criticised a “religious media more anxious to protect its pockets than engage with the realities of faith in the world”.

Fr Hoban is the co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

He made these criticisms in a local newspaper column.

He noted that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin recently lamented the dearth of Catholic intellectuals in Ireland.

Fr Hoban warned of the consequences “if bishops or priests or intelligent ‘lay’ Catholics are not prepared to reflectively engage in the public market-place”.

In that case, “that space is left open to obsessive Catholic extremists who seek to psychologically bludgeon anyone who doesn’t agree with them”.

“[They] do untold damage to the Catholic faith in Ireland,” he said.

The priest added that there is little institutional support for intellectual debate in the Catholic Church.

This is “as distinct from cheerleading”.

He cited the Church’s lack of support for several prominent theologians.

These include Enda McDonagh, Gabriel Daly and Sean Fagan.

On the other hand, the Church backs “others of whom great things were expected, but who now seem often to use every opportunity to ingratiate themselves with Church authorities, with an eye to promotion”.

Fr Hoban also slated the Vatican silencing of five Irish priests.

The silenced five were “sacrificial lambs hunted down by the Catholic ‘stasi’, the equivalent of the East German secret police, who wouldn’t know their theological arm from their elbow”.

The priests were condemned for effectively helping explain in ordinary words the insights of theologians and biblical scholars, he added.

Fr Hoban queried the lack of Catholic intellectuals in Ireland, given the huge investment in Catholic education.


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