The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, believes that sectarianism is 'alive and well' in Dublin.

According to the Irish Times, at a colloquium in Trinity College Dublin at the weekend the archbishop said: 'My own experience since returning to work in Dublin is that sectarianism, although polite in speech and smile, is alive and well in instinct and in prejudice. It is for this reason that I am particularly slow to agree that 'the bad old days' are behind us.'

The theme of the colloquium was 'Remembering Vatican II, Some Anglican Perspectives' that he was cautious about criticism of the Irish reception of Vatican II because he was 'well aware of a deep-running psychological trait in the Church of Ireland of my youth which overlapped with it.'

In the Church of Ireland 'many were content to see the Roman Catholic Church as holding a moral monopoly right across Ireland and many in the Roman Catholic Church and in society were happy to be beneficiaries of this self-granted status.

'With a degree of self-indulgent cynicism, sections of the Church of Ireland were happy to use this as a moral backdrop while rejoicing to trumpet their difference...'

Jackson added: 'I simply ask the question of those from the Republic of Ireland: How different really was it in those days?'

Developments in Ireland following Vatican II were 'hard won, he said. The downside of any moral (or religious) monopoly 'is always societal and professional collusion at all levels, not only the clerical one,' he said.

'However, when theocracy is added to monopoly there are very specific opportunities for clericalism to flourish to the detriment of the church and the society.'

Referring to Vatican II’s broad vision for the inclusion of lay Catholics in Church sacraments and affairs, Jackson said: 'To an Anglican such as myself, I marvel at the patience of lay people in the Roman Catholic tradition.'

Jackson added that he often asked himself similar questions of his own tradition. Theologically he was 'left pondering the depth of influence of both Calvinism and Jansenism to this very day on the traditions of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism in Ireland, those twins of the Reformation and post-Reformation era, so attractive in cold theological climates.'

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who spoke at the same event said he believed the time was ripe in Ireland for a review 'of where we are in our ecumenical relations. We need to do so in order to understand better the path forward.'

There was a wide awareness of the fact that the relationship between the two archbishops here in Dublin is one of friendship, he said, adding that he had been 'greatly supported in difficult moments in my ministry' by two Anglican archbishops.

Doctor Jackson was elected Archbishop of Dublin in February 2011.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, believes that sectarianism is 'alive and well' in Dublin.Google Images