November 18, 2005

First duty of Taoiseach is to the state, not his faith

One in Four

It is interesting to note just how many commentators and public representatives have told us in recent days that while there had been a "special relationship" between the Irish State and the Roman Catholic hierarchy, that relationship is now largely a matter of history, writes Colm O'Gorman

But is it really? It may be true that no member of the current Cabinet has responsibility for clearing legislation through the Archbishop's Palace, as was the case for many decades, but does the fact that such a blatant corruption of our democratic process no longer exists mean that we have become a more independent republican democracy, or does the State and its citizens continue to show undue deference to the church?

I was in Wexford last Thursday, meeting with many of those directly affected by the issues dealt with in the Ferns report. I was contacted at 4.30pm by a journalist seeking my response to an Taoiseach's "robust defence" of the Catholic Church. My initial reaction was one of disbelief.

Our Taoiseach rarely, if ever, seriously misjudges public opinion and while he had never condemned the Vatican for its role in Ferns, I never expected that he would defend or seek to somehow excuse that appalling failure by suggesting that it should be somehow judged in the context of the great amount of good the church has done in the past.

I was amazed to hear the elected leader of this republican democracy, the head of a Government which derives its powers not from Rome, but from us individually and collectively as citizens, fail to roundly condemn the institutional church, but instead rise to its defence.

Posted by kshaw at November 18, 2005 10:39 AM