Saturday 19 October 2019

'Pope will challenge us to be a less self-protecting Church'

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Photo: Frank McGrath
As the countdown continues to Pope Francis’s visit to Knock, Co Mayo, next Sunday, business owner John Prendergast holds a statue of the Pope. Photos: Niall Carson
Holy Water bottles on sale and, left, Pope Francis souvenir cigarette lighters on sale in the town. Photos: Niall Carson
Pope Francis souvenir cigarette lighters on sale in the town. Photos: Niall Carson

Sarah MacDonald

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin hopes Pope Francis will challenge the Irish Catholic hierarchy to become a less "authoritarian, harsh, autocratic and self-protecting Church".

Dr Martin said: "We need a Church of light, a light that exposes darkness for what it is... such that the mechanisms of cover-up and self-justification cannot extinguish or tone down."

The Archbishop of Dublin delivered the homily at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin, a week ahead of Pope Francis's Mass in the Phoenix Park.

Reminding the congregation that in just a week they would be "well into the short but intense visit" of the Pope, he said he anticipated widespread expectation, joy and enthusiasm.

But he said the visit would also be marked by "many anxieties" about the Catholic Church in Ireland and further afield and about its future.

"The Pope has to speak frankly about our past but also about our future," he said. "It is not enough just to say sorry.

"Structures that permit or facilitate abuse must be broken down and broken down forever everywhere."

He questioned what in Irish Catholicism had led to the level of harshness in its institutions and resulted in an "immense" number of victims.

"When you add up all the categories of victims, you can see that the number was immense. We still only know the identity of some," he added.

The scandals of abuse in the Church had produced "a deep-seated resentment" among believers, he said. "It is not just anger over the horror of abuse, but an anger at the role of Church leadership in compounding the suffering of so many in institutions for children, for unmarried mothers and for vulnerable women," he said.

The archbishop, who is president of the World Meeting of Families, said the abuse was "not something that belongs to the past, but a hurt that survivors and those close to them carry in their hearts every day of their lives".

He was speaking in the wake of the announcement by two senior US prelates, who were due to host events in the World Meeting of Families in the RDS, that they would not be travelling to Dublin.

On Saturday, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington announced he was pulling out. He was due to give a keynote address on 'The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World' on Wednesday.

The cardinal was heavily criticised in the Pennsylvania grand jury report over his handling of child sexual abuse allegations, while he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

Last Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Boston announced that Cardinal Sean O'Malley would not travel to Ireland due to "important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St John's Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation programme there".

Cardinal O'Malley heads up the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children.

He was due to moderate the first ever World Meeting of Families seminar on safeguarding children on Friday with clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins.

Irish Independent

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