Thursday 14 December 2017

'Lessons learned here will help others'

Child abuse

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Sarah MacDonald

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said he hopes the Vatican's newly announced commission on child sexual abuse can learn the lessons of the Irish church's "appalling situation" and help other countries deal with the issue.

The committee was set up earlier this month to improve measures to protect children against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

"I fully welcome this," Dr Martin told the Irish Independent.

"I hope it will ensure that what has been achieved in countries like Ireland can be spread around the world and lessons can be learned both about the effects of abuse on survivors and their families and the roots and causes of abuse."

He also hoped the commission would ensure that the church, globally, is a safer place for children.

"What has happened in Ireland has brought about a serious change in the culture and way children are cared for in the church," he said.

Admitting he knew little about the Vatican commission's mandate, he said it wasn't clear yet what its processes and relationship with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would be.

"I have no interest myself," he said when asked if he would be in contention for a role with the commission, "on the basis that I am a busy man in my own life and I have no interest in lobbying for places".

He added that it might be better to have people on the commission from countries which were not at the same stage as Ireland in addressing the problem.

Discussing the issue of women in the Catholic Church, the archbishop said the suggestion floated recently that women could be appointed cardinals by Pope Francis was never on the cards but was based on "speculation".

He said Pope Francis had acknowledged the need for greater participation by women in the church but he said the Pontiff did not want women 'clericalised'.

"We are still caught up in a very clerical understanding of the church," Dr Martin said.

"There is growing participation of women in the structures of the church in Ireland," beginning at the local level, and this would "build up" he said.

However, he appeared to keep the door open for further change, noting Pope Francis had not been Pope for very long and so the changes were "still coming".

"He has changed the whole attitude and climate in which things are being discussed," Dr Martin noted.

"He is not a spin doctor. Anybody can come out and have nice phrases but what impresses people is what he does, the gestures and the phrases that interpret the gestures."

Looking back on 2013, he said the resignation of Pope Benedict was "epochal" and "a remarkably courageous thing for him to do".

He said his hopes for 2014 were that the fruit of a renewal taking place in the church in Dublin, where priests and lay people were beginning to work together, would become "more substantial and more tangible. I think that is one of the keys to the way forward", he said.

Irish Independent

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