Anglican leader apologises for attack on Catholic credibility
A ROW that threatened ecumenical relations has been defused after the leader of the Anglican Church in England expressed his "deep sorrow and regret" over remarks that the Catholic Church in Ireland was losing all credibility.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams caused consternation following his comments in a BBC radio interview that the clerical sex abuse scandals were a colossal trauma for Ireland in particular.
He claimed the Catholic Church here was "losing all credibility" as a result.
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin then spoke out, saying the remarks had "stunned" him.
He said in all his years as Archbishop of Dublin he had rarely felt personally so discouraged when he heard the comments.
"Those working for renewal in the Catholic Church in Ireland did not need this comment on this Easter weekend and do not deserve it," he said in a statement.
He also thanked the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr John Neill and Church of Ireland Bishop Richard Clark of Meath and Kildare for their support.
But in another statement issued on Saturday, Archbishop Martin said Dr Williams had phoned him that afternoon to express his "deep sorrow and regret" for difficulties which may have been created by his remarks concerning the credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
"Archbishop Williams affirmed that nothing could have been farther from his intention than to offend or criticise the Irish Church."
Later in his Easter vigil homily at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral, Dr Martin said Archbishop Williams had explained his "sadness" regarding some "unfortunate words" in his interview. Dr Martin said he appreciated that.
In his Easter homily, Dr Martin said the spotlight of media and public opinion was focused on the failures and the betrayals of church leaders and a damaging culture which has grown up in the church.
"I am not criticising the media for that. That is their job. In doing their job, some will feel the media have been unfriendly to the church, even unfair; others will welcome and recognise valid criticism, from whatever angle it comes, even if it comes from people patently unfavourable to the church.
"The sins of the church could well be exposed by the spotlight of the media, but the church would be converted, renewed and reformed only when it allowed the light of Christ to inspire it and guide it."
Meanwhile, a man armed with a stick attacked the Catholic Bishop of Muenster during the solemn Easter service in the German city's cathedral yesterday.
Police said 60-year-old bishop Felix Genn was able to defend himself with an incense bowl and was unharmed.
"Courageous church officials and other service attendants were able to retain the attacker until police arrived," a police spokesman said.
After the incident, the bishop continued celebrating the Easter service. Police say the 44-year-old man was armed with a stick broken off a brush when he stormed through the packed church up to the altar.