Tuesday 20 February 2018

Martin hits media for 'tarnishing good priests with actions of some'

Sarah Mac Donald

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has strongly backed fellow clergy as he hit out at unfair media "unjustly" tarnishing all priests.

The senior clergyman said many priests and lay people had been left hurt by a cartoon based on the current controversy over the sanctity of the confessional.

"I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and of the vital role of satire in social criticism, but I object to anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some," the Archbishop said in his homily for the Chrism Mass in Dublin's Pro Cathedral.

In an affirmation of his clergy, Dr Martin stated that there are "great priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin."


The Archbishop took issue with a cartoon in the 'Irish Times' depicting three singing priests in front of a confessional – one of whom holds a copy of the Children First Bill.

The trio appear to be singing a line from a Meat Loaf song, warbling "I won't do that" in response to the mandatory reporting requirement for clerics. It refers to the controversy over the Children First Bill which makes the reporting of child sexual abuse or concerns about it mandatory for clergy, as well as other professionals dealing with children.

Some priests have expressed concern that the terms of the bill, taken in conjunction with the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act, obligate Catholic priests to break the seal of confession if someone confesses abuse.

Fr Gearoid O'Donnchu, a retired parish priest in the diocese of Kerry, stated publicly this week that he will not break the seal of confession.

Dr Martin (68) told the packed congregation that for priests of his age and older their social image and position had "changed enormously" since their ordination.

The Mass, at which priests renew their ordination vows, was attended by auxiliary bishops, priests, lay men and women from parishes in Wicklow, Kildare, Wexford, Carlow, Laois, as well as Dublin city and county.

"Many of the traditional social supports for the priest have been weakened," he said.

Paying tribute to older priests, Dr Martin said they had experienced rapid and deep social change on many occasions during their life.

Elsewhere, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry said priests were "launching out into new and uncharted waters" and he said some younger priests wondered how they will cope in the future with extra work and fewer colleagues.

"The current service model of providing masses, funerals, baptism and blessings on demand is not going to be possible into the future," the bishop warned.

In Tuam, Archbishop Michael Neary said priests were ministering in a fractured world at times as men who "are ourselves disillusioned and disheartened."

Meanwhile, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey has strongly criticised Sinn Fein party political literature in west Belfast for "misrepresenting" the pro-life position of the Catholic Church.

"When I became aware of party political literature which was jointly issued in the names of Sue Ramsey MLA and Councillor Matt Garrett of Sinn Fein, which stated that I "share" their position on the "termination" of unborn human life, I was appalled," he said. "This is an untrue and most damaging assertion."

He said political figures should not try to misrepresent the pro-life position of the Catholic Church to constituents.

Irish Independent

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