'Unfaithful' priests failed to protect, concedes Martin
Prelate warns sins must be addressed
Published 03/04/2010 | 05:00
THE Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, yesterday spoke out about the harm caused by the "infidelity" of priests who have abused and failed to protect.
This was the senior cleric's most pointed reference to the ongoing child abuse controversy which has rocked the Catholic Church in recent months as he led hundreds of pilgrims on the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession.
Elsewhere, the embattled head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, who is under pressure from abuse survivors to resign, admitted much more needed to be done to repair the damage of the past.
Cardinal Brady has faced down criticism from abuse victims over a meeting that oversaw the swearing to secrecy 35 years ago of two teenagers who made abuse allegations against notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth.
The cardinal said he would spend Easter Week considering his position over his role in silencing abuse victims in 1975.
Yesterday, the Archbishop of Armagh, during his homily to the congregation at St Patrick's Church, Dundalk, Co Louth, said he accepted bishops had failed, sometimes "grievously", in response to child abuse.
"We have heard calls for material help and for spiritual help. Those calls must be considered and responded to properly.
"That process of making reparation for the past must continue," Cardinal Brady said, giving no hints that he intends to step down from his post.
"The church in Ireland needs to continue to identify what exactly is required to make reparation for the past and to build solid foundations for true renewal in the future."
Cardinal Brady said he believed many others who suffered abuse wanted to tell their story and had a right to be heard.
Last year, the Ryan Commission exposed a shocking catalogue of abuse against young people in Irish state- and church-run industrial schools.
Its report detailed the endemic rape, beating and ritual humiliation of children in orphanages, borstals and reformatories spanning back to the 1930s.
In the midst of Holy Week, there was an undercurrent about abuse running through much of what Dr Martin had to tell the hundreds of pilgrims as he led the annual Way of the Cross procession through the Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Already, in a straight-talking homily at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, Dr Martin told the congregation the sins of the past could not be overlooked and must be addressed.
During Good Friday's prayers, as the procession halted at different stations on its journey to the Papal Cross, the former Vatican diplomat said remaining faithful could be a real challenge in a "world filled with compromises and short cuts".
He spoke of the harm caused by infidelity in many different aspects such as the greed shown in the Celtic Tiger era and the unfulfilled promises made to the poor of the world through international commitments and agreements.
"Think of the harm done by infidelity by those who failed to protect," Dr Martin, dressed in his ceremonial vestments, said.
"Think of the harm done to the fabric of society, when a climate of mistrust is created by a culture where quick profit may be more important than building a sustainable future for all."
At each of the five stations, the procession following behind the cross halted for hymns and prayers.
In one of his reflections, Dr Martin told pilgrims that a lack of "integrity and authenticity" had damaged Irish society.
The inclement weather may have been a contributory factor in the slightly diminished crowds who turned out compared with last year's procession.
The church has been rocked to its core by the extent of the revelations of child abuse since Dr Martin last led a crowd of dedicated pilgrims through the paths of the park.
Six months after the Ryan Commission report was published, the Murphy report into abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese uncovered further shocking revelations about paedophile priests.
It was the eighth annual silent procession staged by the laypeople organisation, the Italian spiritual Communion and Liberation movement, of which Dr Martin is a strong supporter.
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