The Archbishop of Dublin has again criticized the Irish government’s decision to close its Embassy at the Vatican.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny has insisted the decision was made purely on economic grounds as he looks to cut costs.
But Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s latest comments will only fuel the suspicion that relations between Church and State are at an all time low.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Dublin said it was a ‘strange’ decision but ‘indicative of a view that saw religion as belonging to the private sphere’.
Archbishop Martin added: Underlying the recent decision of the Government to close the Irish Embassy to the Holy See one can find something of this mentality in which the function of diplomacy is reduced to what is quantifiable in economic terms as if somehow spiritual matters did not belong to the real world.
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“It is equally strange that the decision was made at a time in which in general there has been a growing awareness in international diplomatic circles of the importance of the factor of religion in anunderstanding of international security and peaceful coexistence among people.”
The Bishop made his comments as he addressed a meeting of parish councils in Dublin and admitted the Church in Ireland is changing.
“Societies like our own where faith and the Christian life once flourished and faith communities were strong are now undergoing a far-reaching transformation,” added Archbishop Martin.
“The reality of God is slowly being eclipsed and people are living their lives as if God does not exist. It is not so much an atmosphere of hostility towards faith but an attitude of indifference or one which tolerates a presence for God in the private lives of individuals but much less within the realities of our society.
“Some who felt that religion was destined to be relegated to the purely private sphere are surprised by the fact that religion has come back to centre stage in international relations.
“This is not just about a surge in forms of fundamentalism. Faith is not just part of the problem; religion is so central in the life and mentality of many that it cannot but be part of the solution to central problems of international relations today.”