2 Jan 2009

Archbishop of Dublin in fresh apology to victims of sex abuse

The Independent - Ireland
January 2, 2009

By John Cooney | Independent Religion Correspondent

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin yesterday apologised again for the failures of the Catholic Church to protect generations of children under its care from clerical sexual abuse.

In a World Peace Day sermon during Mass at the Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, south Dublin, Dr Martin said: "I recognise the faults of the Church in this area (of child protection), and I ask for pardon at the beginning of a new year, especially where I personally have caused hurt."

This is not the first time that the Archbishop of Dublin has apologised to victims, but his remarks take on added significance as he was speaking just weeks before the publication of a Government Commission of Inquiry into the country's biggest diocese. It is expected to contain shocking revelations that will rock Church and State to their foundations.

Striking an optimistic note for the future, Dr Martin said that as Archbishop of Dublin he also knew many people wanted to work for a church and a society which would be more robust in their protection of children.


"We need a Church which protects children and we need a Church which becomes a model and a partner of protection," added the archbishop in a clear signal of his determination to restore trust in the Church. His aims include improved cooperation with state agencies especially the Health Service Executive and the gardai.

The archbishop's appeal was in dramatic contrast to his warning last month that the failure of the Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, to implement correct procedures in his Cork diocese was putting at risk the national system of child protection.

Referring to the Christmas Day plea by Pope Benedict for the Catholic Church around the world to root out priest paedophiles from the ministry, Archbishop Martin said that he hoped that in 2009 it would be possible in Ireland to take up the papal appeal.

He hoped that Church and State "would work on the basis of partnership to eliminate all the various forms of abuse of children wherever they exist in our nation".

Archbishop Martin, a former Vatican diplomat, was sent by Pope Benedict to clean up the Dublin archdiocese from an endemic culture of child abuse by priests that has been traced by the commission under, Judge Yvonne Murphy, to 1940, the year in which Archbishop John Charles McQuaid began his 33-year reign.

In a wide-ranging homily on the importance of community spirit and the power of love, Archbishop Martin said he was convinced that so many young people today rejected God because they have never been presented with the true God, their friend and protector.

"They reject a false 'God of the Church' because Church structures, and many believers, so often do not witness to God, as God reveals himself.

"We have built false models of God and we have built false models of Church which become ideology rather than the place where in our vacillation we can turn to a God who will bless us and protect us."

Archbishop Martin also pleaded for a Church which took a lead in the protection of the elderly, and he said that despite what people say, he believed that "the smugness which often characterised the wealthy Ireland of recent years has not undermined or eliminated the spirit of community".

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