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Irish archbishop decries comments critical of pope following synod

Irish Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, center, talks with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, before the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

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DUBLIN (CNS) -- Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin decried comments from clerics and others who said Pope Francis caused confusion in his calls for an open discussion on how the church should reach out to those who are marginalized, hurt and wounded in their lives during the recent Synod of Bishops on the family.

Archbishop Martin said he was "quite surprised at the remarks of some commentators within church circles about the recent Synod of Bishops, often making accusations of confusion where such confusion did not exist and so actually fomenting confusion."

He did not identify specific comments during a Mass marking the refurbishment of a church at the Dublin Institute of Technology Nov. 4.

U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, has been among those who described some discussions during the synod as causing confusion. The cardinal also warned that it "could even induce the faithful into error with regard to the teaching about marriage and other teachings."

The cardinal was among those who led an effort to rework the synod's midterm report, which had emphasized the importance of a church that reaches out to families and people hurting in today's world -- including cohabitating couples, divorced and remarried Catholics and homosexual couples -- and accompanies them back into the church. The synod's final report omitted those sections and upheld long-standing teaching on marriage.

Archbishop Martin said he believed that "a longing for certainties may spring from personal uncertainty rather than strong faith."

"A strong -- and indeed orthodox faith -- is never afraid of discussion," he said.

"They fail to see how Pope Francis shows that his concern for people who suffer is far from being a sign of dogmatic relativism, but rather is a sign of pastoral patience," Archbishop Martin said.

Archbishop Martin also said that "a church which becomes a comfort zone for the like-minded ceases to be truly the Church of Jesus Christ."

The archbishop attended the synod and spoke of the need for new language with which to communicate with married couples during an address Oct. 7, according to excerpts of his remarks published by the Irish bishops' conference.

Many people "would hardly recognize their own experience in the way we present the ideals of married life, he told the synod.

"Indeed many in genuine humility would probably feel that they are living a life which is distant from the ideal of marriage as presented by church teaching," he said.

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