In her column this week on Drivetime, Olivia O’Leary looked back at her positive experiences of an education provided by nuns, but stressed that her own positive educational experiences must be measured against those whose experiences were profoundly damaging.
‘Given the attitudes towards women’s education at the time, my Mercy nuns were brilliant. They opened doors for me, and gave me many of the tools to do the job that I love, all my life. Am I grateful to them? Yes. Always and ever.’
But, responding to comments from the Catholic Primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Eamonn Martin, who claimed that the positive record of the religious orders was being almost obliterated, Olivia feels that the contribution of the religious orders to Irish society needs to be understood and appreciated in the round, the good and the bad.
Olivia also sets her column in the context of religious orders in modern Ireland, arguing that it cannot be right that ownership of a state-funded maternity hospital is being handed over to a religious order whose ethos may not be shared by all of those who use it.
‘Too often, when Church leaders talk about maintaining a religious ethos, they mean maintaining religious control.’
The people who give a good name to the Catholic Church in Ireland, says Olivia, are not those who take charge of shiny new hospitals, but those working at the margins. Sister Consilio, with addiction. Father Peter McCreery and Sister Stan, with homelessness. Brother Kevin, with the homeless and hungry.
For more from Drivetime, click here.
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