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MARTIN MUST NAME NAMES - Archbishop Should Out Those Who Deny Abuse

Father Brian A Little Bit of Religion: Father Brian D'Arcy, Sunday World, May 2010

FRUSTRATED: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

FRUSTRATED: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

BY now the words of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last Monday have been analysed repeatedly.

The people his talk was aimed at have not yet come out of hiding.

Most of us know by now that politics within the clerical church in Ireland and indeed in Rome is a murky business.

That is one of the reasons why Diarmuid Martin feels so frustrated.

Most of what he said in the talk he gave to the Knights of Columbanus is self-evidently true.

He's right when he says that there are strong elements within the Catholic Church who still live in denial about the extent of sexual abuse.

Priests in religious orders and in dioceses still haven't taken onboard the seriousness of the sexual abuse of children.

Diarmuid Martin is not the only one who is isolated within the clerical club because of his stand against abuse and its cover-up.

Most leaders of religious orders are experiencing the same kind of hostility when they try to protect children. The usual question is asked. "Where has the compassion gone?"

Even well educated clerics, who criticise cover-ups in the past, in practice still hold that compassion should be distributed only to the cleric and not to the survivor.

It is frustrating for Diarmuid Martin and others to experience the backbiting and hostility for doing what is right. These "strong forces,"make life difficult and ensure the culture of cover-up has not gone away.

Perhaps Diarmuid Martin would have been more helpful if he had named the sources of opposition.

Is it found in other members of the hierarchy? Is it also found with senior members of his own Archdiocese? Is it lay organisations perhaps? Is it the right-wing Catholic Press?

We need to know who it is he feels is resisting God's holy spirit to renew the Church. That is an unforgivable sin. Such people should not be ministering.

He talks about, "signs of subconscious denial." I am not so sure that it is subconscious. It takes a conscious decision to deny the extent and the scandal of abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Archbishop is right too when he highlights the seriousness of crisis of faith we are facing in this country.

Perhaps this is where he shows his inexperience in dealing with the Catholic Church in Ireland. He has spent most of his life in Rome and would not have been aware that many people have been saying, for over twenty years, what he revealed on last Monday night.

But it is good that he has come to that conclusion and it is refreshing to hear a man in leadership recognising that there is a serious crisis of faith.

He points the finger at the Catholic education system. Again I think the question he asked is a valid one.

What is a Catholic ethos in a school? How come that in a nominally Catholic school neither the majority of the pupils nor the majority of the teachers are believers?

The Archbishop is right to say that in parishes there is little outreach to young people. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is the fall off in the numbers, and in the quality, of vocations to the priesthood.

Archbishop Martin praised the role of prophets within christian communities. Prophets will always suffer. He can console himself that he, when he deals with realities, is a prophet suffering hostility.

"The Catholic Church in Ireland in the future will have to find its place in a different, much more secularised culture, at times even in a hostile culture," the Archbishop said.

Future generations won't learn about the Church in the home or at school, so it's up to parish communities to find ways of catechising young people.

In almost every other European country and in North America parish catechising has worked remarkably well.

It is important to listen to what Archbishop Martin said. But I hope he goes on to answer the many questions we raised.

The Archbishop is frustrated, and in many ways his speech showed that. If the Church belongs to the people I think he should be brave enough to go one step further and talk in less diplomatic terms about which leaders are resisting renewal.

It's time their evil work was "outed."