When members of Voice of the Faithful® pray for shepherd leaders, they pray for more Diarmuid Martins, the archbishop of Dublin, Ireland. We listened with interest to his interview on CBS-TV News’ 60 Minutes, Mar. 4.
Martin showed during the interview that he:
- Has faced the truth about clergy sexual abuse and is not afraid to admit it out loud.
- “You’ve said the Church in Ireland has reached a breaking point,” said correspondent Bob Simon. “It has reached a breaking point,” Martin said. “To what extent do you think the crisis in the Church is due to the sexual scandals,” Simon asked. “Oh, enormously,” Martin answered.
- Grasps the dimensions of the scandal and is not afraid to act.
- Martin provided Ireland’s Murphy Commission, which investigated clergy sexual abuse, more than 65,000 documents the Church had locked away. Those documents revealed the enormous breadth of the problem. Just two examples from those documents—One priest admitted sexually abusing children twice a month for 25 years and another admitted abusing more than 100 children. Martin said he believes “thousands of children suffered similar fates.”
- Knows stopping the scandal will require an understanding not only about child sex abuse, but also how the abuse is about power.
- “It isn’t just, you know, the actual sexual acts, which are horrendous,” Martin said, “but sexual abuse of a child is—it’s a total abuse of power.” In effect saying to a child, “I control you,” “you are worthless.”
- Understands the pain clergy sexual abuse causes, and responds compassionately.
- What do you say to a child who has been abused, Simon wanted to know. Martin said he does not see them until they are grown men, and then, “I don’t say much. I listen.” He said he imagines them when they were young. Like a man who said he was raped as an 8-year-old boy, and as he described a visit to 8-year-olds at a school Martin had to choke back his sobs.
- Recognizes the Church must reconcile itself to clergy sexual abuse survivors.
- Last year, Martin officiated with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, in a Mass of atonement, something the Church in Ireland had never done before. He has apologized repeatedly for the way in which the Church has handled the scandal and has handled survivors.
- Sees protection of children as lifelong pursuit.
- “There’s still a long path to journey in honesty before we can truly merit forgiveness,” he said, and he cautioned those who believe the scandal is over. “It isn’t over. Child protection and the protection of children is something [that] will go on—for—for—you know, for the rest of our lives and into the future because the problems are there.”
Martin is rare among the Church’s leading clerics, and the Church’s hierarchy could use more like him.
To view Archbishop Martin’s 60 Minutes interview, click here.
#1 by anne southwood on March 10, 2012 - 8:25 AM
Archbishop Martin had been a Vatican diplomat when he was sent back home to shepherd the Dublin archdiocese. Reportedly, when reading the reports on the Irish Church-related abuse of children, he threw the material against the wall in consternation.
When he says he doesn’t talk at survivors, I believe him. A good shepherd, he is alert, listening, and ready to protect. It is clear to me that the most important aspect of his “teaching function” is to assure people that he cares, and always will. A shame he can’t be cloned and put in every diocese.