“typical of the slithery sleeveenism that still infects Irish politics.”

The report of Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin’s meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, ends on this note

Responding to Mr Martin’s expression of “deep disappointment” at the lack of a response by the pope to the Dublin diocesan report, Holy See sources said until the Holy See received a formal complaint from the Government via its diplomatic mission in Rome, a Vatican response would be “inappropriate”.

Meanwhile, in the Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole questions the validity of legislative echoes of a Byzantine Empire. From the Irish Times article

THE VATICAN, in its refusal to deal with the Murphy commission on child abuse in the Dublin diocese, made it clear that it wishes to be regarded, not as a church organisation, but as a foreign state. Which raises the rather stark question: why do we allow a foreign state to appoint the patrons of our primary schools? If some weird vestige of colonial times decreed that the British monarch would appoint the ultimate legal controllers of almost 3,200 primary schools in our so-called republic, we would be literally up in arms. Why should we tolerate the weird vestige of an equally colonial mentality that allows a monarch in Rome to do just that?

Fintan O’Toole notes

The current line from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is not to defend the retention of these powers by unelected and unaccountable people who may or may not recognise Irish law, but to insist that they are little used. This is typical of the slithery sleeveenism that still infects Irish politics. Anti-democratic powers are okay so long as they are not used.

There are just two possibilities here. Either the statutory powers of the bishops have fallen into disuse, in which case who can object to the clearing away of this offensive anachronism? Or they have not fallen into disuse, in which case they remain as an affront to a republican democracy.

Even if the bishops were not collectively and institutionally incapable of putting the welfare of children first, the idea that the primary school system of a 21st century democracy should be ultimately controlled by the appointees of a foreign dictatorship would be shameful.

We need to grow up as a society, and that means growing out of our dependence on a 19th century instrument of power and control. Every intelligent theologian knows that that institution (as opposed to the faith it has distorted and betrayed) is effectively dead. It is long since time that politicians who claim to be republicans stopped prostrating themselves before its corpse.

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