DUBLIN — The taoiseach has been taken to task by the Church of Ireland Gazette, which finds it "astonishing" that his partner, Celia Larkin, accompanies him at home and abroad.
Leading figures in the Church of Ireland have distanced themselves from the attack by the Gazette, which is funded by the church but is editorially independent.
"Mr. Ahern is a married man and he is not married to Miss Larkin," the magazine states.
"It is remarkable the leader of the government should see no need to make an apology for this situation.
"It is even more remarkable that the Roman Catholic Church, until recently the staunch defender of public morality in this country, has been so silent in this instance.
"Can one image that Archbishop John Charles McQuaid would have been so reticent? Of course the Church is in a delicate position at a time when fresh scandals involving Christian Brothers or priests are almost a daily feature of the newspapers."
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The Gazette says the taoiseach’s "delicate situation" is in part a result of the Catholic’s Church’s position that divorce is not permitted.
"But there are other more important commandments," the Gazette says. "Although we often regard Britain as a country with lesser moral values than our own, in Britain this situation would be a matter of scandal and, probably, resignation. Remember Cecil Parkinson!
"We may feel a certain sympathy or even pity for Mr. Ahern as an individual. But he is not an individual; he is the leader of the government, a role model. He represents our nation abroad.
"Ireland is changing fast. No longer are the old certainties so certain in politics or morals. It is an exciting time, a time of wonderful opportunities. But it would be a great pity if, in embracing the new we were to lose some of the values of decency and responsibility which served us well in the past."
Founded in 1853 as the Irish Ecclesiastical Gazette, the weekly has a circulation of more than 6,000.