Catholic World News

Irish prelates welcome Pope’s letter; Archbishop Martin warns against ‘fundamentalism’

March 22, 2010

Ireland’s leading prelates welcomed Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter to the Church in Ireland in which he apologized to Irish abuse victims, lamented the hierarchy’s failure to confront the scandal, and announced an apostolic visitation.

“I ask you that you read this letter with an open heart and in a spirit of faith,” said Cardinal Seán Brady of Armagh. “Let us pray that the Holy Father’s Pastoral Letter will be the beginning of a great season of rebirth and hope in the Irish Church, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

“I welcome the Pope’s expression of apology and his recognition of the suffering and betrayal experienced by survivors,” said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. “The Pope recognizes the failures of Church authorities in how they dealt with sinful and criminal acts.”

“The Church tragically failed many of its children: it failed through abuse; it failed through not preventing abuse; it failed through covering up abuse,” Archbishop Martin preached on March 21.

Preaching on the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 8:1-11), the archbishop said that “Jesus’ logic is different to ours. In the face of sin he does not respond with fundamentalist condemnation; neither does he respond with modern-day liberal toleration.”

“The Church in Ireland has for long had a very strong judgemental trait,” he continued. “We were taught a great deal about sins and sins were listed and catalogued. Church leaders, but also indeed individuals and communities, often thought that their own judgmentalism was justified by their representing the anger and the wrath of God.”

He added:

The Church is called to renew itself in turning back more closely to her founder Jesus Christ. All of us need to learn more deeply how to think like Christ, how to teach like Christ and care as Christ did. We need to realise that the cold harshness of fundamentalism has nothing to do with the demanding starkness of personal and institutional integrity.

Our prayer this evening is that this period of renewal in the Church will be a moment of healing. A precondition of healing is recognition and rejection of the faults of the past, without becoming entrenched and immobilised in history. The truth must come out; without the truth we will never be truly free.

We must face the truth of the past; repent it; make good the damage done. And yet we must move forward day by day along the painful path of renewal, knowing that it is only when our human misery encounters face-to-face the liberating mercy of God that our Church will be truly restored and enriched.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 22, 2010 8:08 PM ET USA

    We are told by Christ Himself that God does indeed have wrath--including towards those who lead children astray. Why did they not fear Divine Judgement and hell? Did they not believe in God? Did they not believe the words of Christ? Did they not believe Scripture? Did they not believe the teachings of the Church? If not, why were they priests and bishops?

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Mar. 22, 2010 7:07 PM ET USA

    Almost sounds like Martin wants to shrug off the blame all those bishops deserve and to continue with the mentality that brought about the awful consequences. "God forbid that we should go back to a fundamental approach to our religion!", they seem to be saying, or am I just too rigid?

  • Posted by: - Mar. 22, 2010 12:15 PM ET USA

    The reason for the repeated references to 'fundamentalism' escapes me. How do 'fundamentalism' and 'judgmentalism' lie at the root of this problem? Strikes me as confused statement . . . .

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 22, 2010 9:19 AM ET USA

    Fundamentalism?? Maybe if there was a little fundamentalism, the fundamentals of the Faith this scandal would not exist. There is a connection between dissent and the breakdown of sound morals. I think the Archbishop should worry about that.