Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Clerical sex abuse scandal 'not invention of media'

Clerical sex abuse scandal 'not invention of media'
PADDY AGNEW in Rome

Wed, Aug 25, 2010

THE IRISH Catholic Church’s child sex abuse scandal is “not an invention of the media” but rather a profound scandal for the Irish faithful, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said yesterday.

Catholics in Ireland, he said, were shocked not just by the sex abuse crimes of priests but also by the handling of those crimes by the Irish hierarchy. Dr Martin made his remarks in Rome yesterday in an address to the annual Rimini gathering of the Italian Catholic lay group, Communione E Liberazione.

Speaking in fluent Italian, and presented as someone who had “paid with his own person” for his faith, Dr Martin was given a very warm reception by the 2,500-strong attendance.

In explaining the state of the contemporary Irish church, he painted a less than flattering picture, saying: “Ireland is undergoing a true revolution in its religious culture.

“Many foreign observers still think that Ireland is a stronghold of traditional Catholicism. They are surprised to discover, as I was when I returned to Ireland (in 2004), that there are parishes in Dublin where Mass attendance on Sundays is less than 5 per cent, or even as low as 2 per cent in some cases.

“The problem is that many in Ireland and in the Irish church . . . continue to act as if they were still living in a majority Catholic culture . . . ”

Dr Martin said priests in Ireland went about their ministry in an “ideologically polemical” climate created by media sensationalism in coverage of the clerical sex abuse scandals.

“Very few people present themselves as Catholic writers whilst we have lots of people ever ready to comment on Church affairs, often in a sensationalist manner and with little real knowledge of the nature of the Church. “Nonetheless, it has to be underlined without any ambiguity that the scandal of the sex abuse of children by priests and religious in Ireland truly is a scandal and not an invention of the media.

“It is the faithful of all ages who are scandalised not only by the facts of the abuse but above all by the manner in which horrible abuses of children were treated by the hierarchy . . .”

Dr Martin was making his first public appearance since it emerged earlier this month that Pope Benedict had not accepted offers of resignation from Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field.

Dr Martin made no reference to that matter. Talking to The Irish Times later, the archbishop declined to comment.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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