Saturday, December 12, 2009

A united front cannot conceal the divisions

Independent.ie
A united front cannot conceal the divisions
By Edel Kennedy
Saturday December 12 2009

IT is a symbol of the might of the Catholic Church. But yesterday in the shadow of St Peter's Cathedral, the cracks in the Irish Catholic Church began to show -- and to widen.

Talks of reorganisation and rolling heads show that the Church has lost it's might in Ireland, and the hierarchy has finally realised it.

Arriving separately for a hastily organised media briefing, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin stood side by side and sang from the same hymn sheet.

But it was clear that despite the release of the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy reports, the issue of child sex abuse is something Cardinal Brady still finds very difficult to talk about.

Surrounded by members of the international media, his voice shook as he spoke of the meeting they had had with Pope Benedict XVI.

He said he was "saddened" to be back in Rome addressing the issue of sex abuse so soon after the Ryan report, but that the Church wanted to ensure it would never happen again.

"I asked him (the Pope) in my opening remarks to teach us, to help us to be better shepherds of the people, to lead us on the way of repentance," he said.

But for Archbishop Martin, the time of being just a shepherd over an angry flock is clearly over. He wants explanations, reorganisation, and rolling heads. And he pledged that he's going to keep pushing until these things are done.

"Terrible mistakes were made and we can't get over that," he said.

"We have to address these things. In the report it's very clear there were systems problems, there was bad communication. And the Ferns report also said bishops should have management training.

"We have to get our systems right so this sort of compartmentalisation of knowledge doesn't take place. That was a serious problem."

Sticking rigidly to his pledge that the men would talk for 10 minutes, Cardinal Brady's press adviser, Martin Long, jumped in to wrap things up. Enough had been said.

Standing between the media and his quarry, he ushered him away and the Cardinal and the Archbishop separated.

Cardinal Brady, Mr Long, and Fr Eamon Martin of the Irish Episcopal Conference turned and walked onto the grounds of St Peter's Church.

At the gates the press was stopped and turned back by Vatican guards.

Archbishop Martin and his press adviser wandered down the street and into a nearby restaurant.

The distance between the two senior churchmen was vast.

- Edel Kennedy

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