Church got it spectacularly wrong, says Martin
ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said children were abused to an enormous extent and the church authorities "got it spectacularly wrong".
Welcoming the pastoral letter to Irish Catholics from Pope Benedict XVI, he said he was glad there was no sign of "revisionism" in what he had to say.
Appealing to the public to read and reflect on the letter, he said the church had tragically failed many of its children.
"It failed through abuse; it failed through not preventing abuse; it failed through covering up abuse," Dr Martin said.
He told Mass-goers at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral over the weekend that the letter dealt with a "dramatically painful chapter" in the lives of so many who were abused.
"The pastoral letter is not a commentary or guidelines about the management of sexual abuse. It is a much broader reflection of the Pope on the failings of the church in Ireland and the future of the church in Ireland," he said in his homily.
The archbishop, one of the church's sternest critics of clerical sex abuse described it as a "horrendous scandal".
He said that child-protection measures needed to be constantly updated, and more participation of lay men and woman was needed, to avoid a false culture of clericalism. "We need to develop a fresh idea of what childhood means; we need to develop a strong horror of what childhood lost means," Dr Martin said.
"We must face the truth of the past and 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," Dr Martin added.