Tuesday 15 October 2019

Martin denies 'strong forces' speech was aimed at Pope

John Cooney Religion Correspondent

THE Archbishop of Dublin has denied criticising Pope Benedict in a controversial speech last week, in which he warned that "strong forces" did not want the truth about the scale of clerical child abuse to come out.

In a statement yesterday, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said his comments to the Knights of Columbanus were a reaffirmation of the Pope's appeal in his letter to Irish Catholics "to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community and to do so with courage and determination".

He insisted that he had not "backed off" from his view, adding: "There are still worrying signs that despite solid (child-protection) regulations and norms . . . these are not being followed with the rigour required."

Archbishop Martin said he fully supported the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and welcomed the publication of its annual report on Monday.

In particular, he noted the view of the board's chairman, John Morgan, that: "Clearly, a cultural correction is required in the Irish church to deal with the problem of abuse."

Archbishop Martin insisted that norms on their own were not enough to ensure the protection of children, adding: "Anything less than a totally robust response will not be enough. There is no room for slippage."


Meanwhile, victims of abuse expressed acute disappointment that Cardinal Sean Brady is to stay on as Primate of All Ireland, in spite of their calls for his resignation over his role in the 1975 cover-up of the infamous paedophile monk Brendan Smyth.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of the One in Four victims-support group, said Cardinal Brady had allowed many other children to be sexually abused and their lives to be devastated by his failure to report Smyth to the authorities.

"Cardinal Brady states that he has consulted with survivors," she said. "He certainly has not listened to what they have said.

"Survivors who are in contact with One in Four are very clear that they need senior Catholic churchmen to be accountable for what they have done -- and to resign."

Ms Lewis said that if Cardinal Brady was genuine about overseeing change, he should challenge the adversarial, legalistic response that many survivors meet when they attempt to bring their experiences to the attention of diocesan and congregational authorities.

She added: "Let him also openly take to task those within the church who have suggested that the Ryan and Murphy reports cannot be accepted without challenge.

"Most importantly, let him ensure that every member of the Catholic Church prioritises the protection of children."

Earlier yesterday, a defiant Cardinal Brady defended his decision to stay on as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland and vowed to lead the church's efforts to improve child-protection measures.

Speaking outside Armagh Cathedral, the Cardinal, who will be 71 in August, acknowledged there were some people who would not agree with him.

"It certainly wasn't an easy decision," he said.

"I have listened to a lot of people and reflected -- as I said I would. I listened to survivors, to priests, to religious people up and down the length of this diocese and I have decided to continue in my present role, to play my part in this diocese, because I want to maintain the momentum towards better child safeguarding and renewal of the faith, which is essential here and a big challenge."

Again apologising to victims, he said his diocese of Armagh would appoint a full-time director of child safeguarding.

Calling on diocesan staff to participate fully in the proposed Independent Safeguarding Authority in Northern Ireland -- which will allow the sharing of information on clergy -- he urged that a similar system should be set up in the Republic, allowing the sharing of information between the two jurisdictions.

Irish Independent

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