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Monday 19 March 2018

Martin calls on bishop to take responsibility

Protection system 'only as good as weakest link'

John Cooney Religion Correspondent

AN angry Archbishop of Dublin has piled on the pressure for Bishop John Magee to assume accountability in the aftermath of last week's damning Cloyne Report.

In his first public comment since the report's publication last Wednesday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that it would be "good" if Dr Magee, who is believed to be in America, came back to Ireland.

"I do not foresee a situation where he would practice public ministry ever again," said Dr Martin when asked if Dr Magee should face criminal investigations in Ireland and a church trial in Rome.

"Those in church and State who have acted wrongly or inadequately should assume accountability," he said.

After mass at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral Dr Martin told reporters: "Cloyne is a model of all that can go wrong", referring to how difficult it could be to carry out an inquiry if a bishop failed to supply full information.

While insisting that the majority of the Irish bishops and heads of religious orders were committed to implementing proper child safeguards, Dr Martin warned "the system is only as good as its weakest link".

Referring to reports into three other dioceses to be completed by the end of July by the church's own watchdog, Dr Martin said: "I do not see the point of having such reports if they are not published."

Urging bishops not to feel that "their mistakes were being pointed to", he said: "If a bishop feels an audit is unjust towards him, he should publish it and say what he thinks is wrong in it."

Dr Martin said he believed that a letter from a cardinal telling the Irish bishops to send complaints to Rome rather than to civil authorities was "not helpful".


But he insisted this was no longer the Vatican's position under Pope Benedict who urged bishops to co-operate fully with the gardai and health authorities.

Commenting on legislation being prepared by Children's Minister Frances FitzGerald to make it obligatory for clergy to report abuse allegations to gardai, Dr Martin expressed his concern about a provision that would not require a report to gardai if a victim did not want to report a crime.

Dr Martin said he expected that the Vatican would respond to the Government's request to explain its role "in a reasonably short time".

On "the seal of the confession" row, Dr Martin said this belonged to the early church, and it was respected in other republics.

Asked if he supported calls for Cardinal Sean Brady to resign over concealing information on the late notorious paedophile monk Brendan Smyth -- and his initial support last January for Dr Magee to stay on in office -- Dr Martin said it was not his practice to give advice as to what other bishops should do in such circumstances.

In his homily, Dr Martin stressed that securing a safe future for children was a huge challenge which could not be addressed in a patchwork manner.

"Great damage has been done to the credibility of the church in Ireland," he acknowledged.

Irish Independent

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