Be kinder to Catholics, says Anglican prelate in Ireland
Catholic News Service
DUBLIN — A senior figure in the Church of Ireland has criticized members of his own church for being dismissive of Catholics.
Anglican Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin also said his members needed to be kinder to fellow Protestants who had married Catholics.
Referring to a recent political debate on abortion, Archbishop Jackson said, "I remember earlier this year the deeply pejorative remarks I heard directed against the Roman Catholic Church by members of these dioceses to me because of its stance and principle on abortion.
"The comments were conversational but it was, more than anything, the assumption of an entitlement to be dismissive more than the criticism of content of the other tradition that came across as instinctive," he said, writing in The Irish Times newspaper.
Archbishop Jackson said that, since his appointment as archbishop in 2011, "people speak with me and write to me about the continuing hurt to which they are subjected from within the Church of Ireland community because they married someone of a tradition other than their own, most usually a Roman Catholic person."
He also criticized the exclusion of non-native Irish members of his church.
"My concern in 2013 is that the inclusive attitudes and behaviors that I support and applaud are still not a universal phenomenon.
"I have been told by concerned clergy that some of them experience resistance to change in their parishes when they engage in work to welcome and integrate new people. That resistance often comes from small groups of assertive laypeople who are, perhaps, fearful of change and of the challenge to their comfort zones," he said.
Archbishop Jackson, a native of Northern Ireland, said he believes that "cultural apartheid" lives on "in the ways of thinking that frame many aspects of Irish life, whether in our own faith community or in the broader society."
"The fear of difference that is at the basis of that desire for segregation has, I believe, impacted on our ability to welcome the newcomers among us," he warned.
Since his appointment, Archbishop Jackson has placed reconciliation and ecumenism at the heart of his ministry. He was a special guest at the 2012 International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and spoke of his pleasure at being invited to such an important Catholic event.
With nearly 380,000 members on the island of Ireland -- nearly 249,000 in Northern Ireland and more than 129,000 in the Irish Republic -- the Church of Ireland is the largest Protestant denomination in Ireland and the second-largest religious community, after Catholicism.