"Out of touch" Catholic Church might be doomed

Athlone TD Mary O'Rourke has blasted the Catholic Church in the wake of the report into child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. In a trenchant and stinging criticism of some of the church's attitudes, she warned it was "out of touch" and was "doomed to failure" unless it "starts to have an affinity again with ordinary people and their ordinary, everyday problems". Deputy O'Rourke also stated that the church had an "extraordinary" attitude towards women. "It is as if we were a race apart or 'dirty people', only to be tolerated because we have the wombs to have the children," she commented. She was speaking in the Dail last Thursday during a discussion on the recent report by the commission of investigation into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. The report was "shocking, damning and obscene," she said. "I could add many more adjectives which would not even begin to sum up all of this." The Fianna Fail representative felt that the church was currently "sowing seeds for further disaffiliation with the people who claim to be churchgoers." "It has lost affinity with its people," she stated. "To my mind, the reason for this is that the words of the Gospel by which we all, in various measures, strive to live are not exemplified in the institutions of the church which is riddled with out-of-date conformist rules which have no resonance whatsoever with ordinary people in terms of how they live their lives." Deputy O'Rourke mentioned an article in The Irish Times last week discussing what she called "the church's archaic rules on contraception." "Who pays heed to them?" she asked. "The church, however, clings to them as if they were a totem pole of wonderful knowledge. "There are also the archaic rules on remarriage in which the church denies marriage to a person who wishes to remarry after a State divorce. The person cannot have a full marriage ceremony in a church. "The church persists with an opaque and impenetrable system of annulment, which one can secure after something like 95 years and all sorts of tribunals of inquiry and so forth. Only then is one allowed to have a church marriage. It is appalling that when a couple part and divorce and each one wishes to marry again, they cannot go to a church of their choosing, if they are members of the Catholic faith, and ask that their second marriage be recognised. "Until the church starts to have an affinity again with ordinary people and their ordinary, everyday problems, it is doomed to failure and we are doomed too," she said. "I noticed that in the various interviews given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and other church personnel last weekend they all very quickly said the report was terrible and then continued with the word 'but'. I urge them to get rid of the buts; they should just say they are sorry without the word 'but' being added to it. The local TD said she was "struck by the sheer discourtesy of a body called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or something with an equally convoluted title. This wonderful doctrine body, wherever it is, does not reply to letters. "Consider the discourtesy of it, and the discourtesy of the head of the Vatican, parading around Ireland in his wonderful glitzy clothes but not replying to letters and not seeing fit to talk to his counterpart, whoever that is. It is just not good enough." The Athlone TD concluded her remarks by saying: "The church's attitude to women is extraordinary. It is as if we were a race apart or "dirty people", only to be tolerated because we have the wombs to have the children, we give birth to them, enrol them in primary schools and have them come out of those schools as good children of the faith. "There is much more to be done. The church should show that it is willing to take the necessary roads and to express itself as being more in touch with people than it has ever been previously."