The Dean’s last stand over the paper thinness of Irish ecumenism…

If the congregation of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin had known what their Dean, Robert McCarthy (biographer of his much overlooked predecessor John Henry Barnard), was going to say in his final Evensong sermon about the poor quality of religious ecumenism in Ireland [and a few other things besides – Ed], they might have had the foresight to advertise it more widely. Patsy McGarry has the dope:

THE DEMORALISED state of the Catholic Church in Ireland “may have something to do with its lack of ecumenism”, the Very Rev Robert MacCarthy (71), Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, has said.

“While I have been happy to welcome the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin as a preacher here, I have to say that there has been no reciprocal invitation to the Pro-Cathedral,” he said.

Ecumenism in Dublin seemed “to be equated to fellowship between the two archbishops; that should merely be the first step”, he said in his final sermon as dean at evensong in St Patrick’s yesterday.


The former and current Catholic archbishops of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, had “both refused to appoint a Roman Catholic chaplain to St Patrick’s, and in this they were supported by their Anglican colleague”, even while such chaplaincies were “commonplace” in England.

He disagreed with those members of his church who felt it could benefit from the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Ireland. They had been “lucky that there was no inquiry into sexual abuse within the Church of Ireland – if there had been, I doubt if we would have been found to be blameless”. Clericalism “was at the root of the church’s ills” and was “alive and well in the Church of Ireland.”

There’s an interesting aside that others better qualified may wish to comment upon:

The Church of Ireland itself showed every sign of splitting into “a sort of Catholic sect in the South with married clergy and a body indistinguishable from other Protestant sects in the North”.

The Dean is no stranger to controversy, something which he acknowledges in his sermon… As, what we would call in the Catholic Church, a late vocation (he was nearly forty by the time of his ordination), his habits of mind were already strongly formed by the time he went into harness.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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