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Archbishop Martin laments ‘hopelessly inadequate’ response to abuse, urges all to ‘turn to Jesus’

Catholic World News - April 02, 2010

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Primate of Ireland, told priests and laity at his April 1 Chrism Mass homily that the Church in Ireland cannot “proclaim closure and move on.”

“This has been a difficult year,” he preached. “We see how damaging failure of integrity and authenticity are to the Body of Christ. Shameful abuse took place within the Church of Christ. The response was hopelessly inadequate. I do not wish to give the impression that I want to go on forever hammering home a message of grief about the past, that I am obsessed with the past. Some ask me: ‘Can we not leave all that aside now, proclaim closure and move on?’”

Archbishop Martin continued:

I cannot agree. There can be no overlooking the past. There is no short-cut in addressing the past. The credibility of the Church in this diocese of Dublin will only be regained when we honestly recognise the failures of the past, whatever our share of responsibility for them. There can be no rewriting history. There is no way we should impose fast-track healing on those whose vulnerability was abused.

We have to address the past but we cannot become imprisoned in the past. We cannot allow the freshness and newness of the Gospel message to be anaesthetized; we cannot allow the enthusiasm of our desire to share that message with others to be smothered. We do not seek to impose a message or a way of life on others. We must, however, witness to what the message of Jesus means to us and what it can bring to society and our world. In that sense we must move forward, but we can only do so bearing within us the wounds of what has happened. Yet recognising our woundedness may indeed be our strength, if we witness more authentically to the Jesus who renounced all arrogance of power.

Where do we go from here? We can work on strategies and programmes, but in the first place we must turn to Jesus. He alone has words of eternal life. He alone is the way the truth and the life. Renewal must begin with knowing Jesus and deepening our relationship with Jesus; he alone will give us the strength and the confidence to renew the Church.

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