Archbishop Martin: No Quick Fixes for Economy

Urges Church-State Cooperation

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GLENTIES, Ireland, JULY 21, 2009 ( The archbishop of Dublin is affirming that fixing the economy will not come through giving the state control of Church institutions, but by a wider participation of all in building society.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin affirmed this Sunday at the MacGill Summer School, a weeklong annual conference in Glenties, which this year is focused on the theme, «The Irish Economy: What Went Wrong? How Will We Fix It?»

He pointed out the need for more «morality of proposing and vision.»

The prelate underlined the challenge not just of «fixing» the economy, but of changing it.

This means «to change our ways of carrying out politics and to change ourselves as individuals and as a society,» he explained.

Citing Benedict XVI’s encyclical, «Deus Caritas Est,» he pointed out that «it is not the task of the Church to create a just society, but the task of politics.»

Part of this change, the archbishop said, «must involve the relationship between Church and State, between Church and politics in a changing Ireland.»

However, he clarified, it is not about being «more tolerant toward today’s open-mindedness» nor blessing a «more secular vision of Ireland.»

«No one wants a Church which just gives a moral veneer to the ways of society,» Archbishop Martin affirmed.

He continued: «But many sectors of secular Ireland also have to find new ways of addressing their own historical hangovers about faith and learn to relate in an adult way with the place of religious belief in society.  

«A vital democracy must find ways in which the values, including the religious values, of all are welcomed and cherished.»

The prelate stated that «a situation in which a Church took over day to day responsibility for the running of most of the school system and of our hospitals was — and still is — an anomaly.»

«But the answer,» he added, «is not simply handing everything over to complex state bureaucracies whose efficiency has certainly yet to be proven.»

Rather, the archbishop said, different types of institutions can learn from each other.

He advocated the «creation of a model of government and economy with a much wider participation of intermediary subjects.»

Archbishop Martin asserted, «A state which simply delegated a wide part of its social responsibilities to a Church had gotten it wrong; a state which takes over the entire package is on equally dodgy ground.»

The Dublin-based Iona Institute for Religion and Society reported today that the archbishop’s remarks are particularly relevant due to the country’s debate over the future of denominational education.

An institute press release stated that there have been a «number of calls for a transfer of ownership of religious-run schools into the ownership of the state» after the May 20 publication of the Ryan Report that detailed widespread abuse in Catholic schools.

It added that Pat Carey, the Government Chief Whip, and Ruairi Quinn, the Labour party’s education spokesperson, said that the State «would ultimately have to take ownership of all primary schools.»

However, the institute communiqué reported that a poll last month showed nearly 75% of the people surveyed believe parents should have the right of choosing denominational education for their children.

Archbishop Martin proposed that what Ireland needs today is cooperation, rather than segregation.

It needs «not just a revival of social partnership, but an even wider model of social participation,» he said.

The prelate continued: «We need a new culture of participation.   

«Political institutions and political parties have to the forefront of fostering a true sense of community participation and ownership of social policy.»

«The media,» he added, «have a special responsibility to bring abuses of power and trust to light, but the media must also be on the side of an ethics of proposing, of constructive support for those who are out there day after day facing the front-line risks of attempting to change society.»  

The archbishop affirmed, «We need more people who heed […] not just their own interest, but that of society and who are prepared to stand up and get involved.»

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