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Dublin's archbishop outraged that 'cabal' blocked action on abuse

July 21, 2011

The Archbishop of Dublin has renewed his call for a dramatic change in attitude in the Irish hierarchy, insisting that candor is necessary to recover from the sex-abuse scandal.

In his first public comments since Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny had issued a blistering condemnation of Church leadership, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin charged that Church officials both in Ireland and at the Vatican have still not grasped the need for full cooperation with government prosecutors and investigators.

In an interview with the RTE broadcast network, an obviously emotional Archbishop Martin said that he was appalled and angry at the findings of a report on the handling of abuse charges in the Cloyne diocese, which showed that Church leaders in that diocese had covered up evidence of sexual abuse—even after the Irish bishops’ conference had approved policies requiring full disclosure of such charges.

“What do you do when you’ve got systems in place and somebody ignores them?” the archbishop asked. He said that there are groups both in Ireland and at the Vatican that have undermined efforts to address the abuse scandal. "I find myself asking today, can I be proud of the Church that I'm a leader of? I have to be ashamed of this," said the archbishop.

While he said that some Vatican officials still have not grasped the severity of the problem, Archbishop Martin did deny charges that the Vatican has opposed those Irish bishops who reported abuse charges to the police. He pointed out that he has handed over more than 70,000 documents to government investigators, and “I have never been reprimanded by the Vatican for doing that.”

When asked whether all Irish bishops are now complying with policies designed to address the crisis, Archbishop Martin answered carefully: “as far as I know,” and “I hope so.” The Primate of Ireland—who has often seemed isolated within the Irish hierarchy because of his outspoken comments on the crisis--did not make any statement that could be interpreted as a show of confidence in his brother bishops. He said that regular independent audits were necessary to ensure that Church leaders are carrying out the policies they have approved.

In a related development, a member of the Irish parliament, the Dáil, called for the resignations of all Ireland’s bishops. Senator Martin Conway of the Fine Gael party said that the Cloyne report pointed to the need for a complete change in leadership. Earlier in the week one of Ireland’s most prominent priests, Father Vincent Twomey—a former student of Pope Benedict XVI and a longtime theology professor at the Maynooth seminary—had suggested that all bishops appointed before 2003 (when Archbishop Martin was named) should step down.


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