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No Respite For Church From Abuse Scandals - Martin

Irish Independent, June 05 2010 by John Cooney Religion Correspondent

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin revealed last night that he often feels Dublin will turn out to be "the most investigated diocese in the world".

And he said he felt the light at the end of the tunnel was still a long way off as far as the church's emergence from the scandal of child sexual abuse was concerned.

In an address to members of Oxford University's Newman Society, Archbishop Martin said that revelations about the management and cover-up of sexual abuse by priests had influenced him deeply over the six years he had led the capital's 1.2 million Catholics.

Archbishop Martin told his English audience that he had cooperated in three investigations and was now engaged with two others.

"I often feel that the Archdiocese of Dublin will turn out to be the most investigated diocese in the world," he said.

"It has dealt with the Murphy Commission -- for which I submitted almost 70,000 documents. It has dealt with two large-scale police investigations -- one currently ongoing -- and it has responded to a detailed audit by the State's Health Service Executive.

"The Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland is due to conduct a further audit and an Apostolic Visitation of the diocese has been announced for the coming months."

Dr Martin said the Catholic Church in Ireland was coming out of one of the most difficult moments in its history, yet the light at the end of the tunnel was still a long way off.

"The Catholic Church in Ireland will have to live with the grief of its past, which cannot and should never be forgotten or overlooked," he added.

"There is no simple way of wiping the slate of the past clean, just to ease our feelings. Yet the Catholic Church in Ireland cannot be imprisoned in its past. The work of evangelisation must, if anything, take on a totally new vibrancy."

The archbishop said his remark about moving onwards should not be in any way interpreted as turning his back on the survivors of sexual abuse.

"They had their childhood stolen and the words of Jesus about his special care for children will apply to them until that day, whenever and if ever that will be, when the hurt of their stolen childhood will be healed," he continued.

"In my years as archbishop I have learnt enormously from survivors as they allowed me to know something of their pain and of their hopes and also of the spiritual void which many experience as a result of betrayal by their church.

"In my encounters with survivors, however, I have found their spiritual fragility somehow has given them a deep spiritual strength, from which I have profited. For that I thank them."

The bulk of the archbishop's lengthy address dealt with the challenge of responding to the many young people who were struggling to find a reason to remain in the church.

"The generosity and idealism of young people hesitate in the face of the remnants of a culture of authoritarianism in the church," Dr Martin said.

"Young people need to be led into the fundamental question about God, within a culture where there are many other very attractive gods which young people encounter day by day."

- John Cooney Religion Correspondent