Again, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is a Leading Light of the Church

From a speech last night:

“On a purely personal level, as Diarmuid Martin, I have never since becoming Archbishop of Dublin felt so disheartened and discouraged about the level of willingness to really begin what is going to be a painful path of renewal and of what is involved in that renewal….

Why am I discouraged? The most obvious reason is the drip-by-drip never-ending revelation about child sexual abuse and the disastrous way it was handled. There are still strong forces which would prefer that the truth did not emerge. The truth will make us free, even when that truth is uncomfortable. There are signs of subconscious denial on the part of many about the extent of the abuse which occurred within the Church of Jesus Christ in Ireland and how it was covered up….

Renewal of the Church requires participation and responsible participation. I have spoken about the need for accountability regarding the scandal of sexual abuse. I am struck by the level of disassociation by people from any sense of responsibility. While people rightly question the concept of collective responsibility, this does not mean that one is not responsible for one’s personal share in the decisions of the collective structures to which one was part.

I am surprised at the manner in which Church academics and Church publicists can today calmly act as pundits on the roots of the sexual abuse scandals in the Church as if they were totally extraneous to the scandal. Where did responsibility lie for a culture of seminary institutions which produced both those who abused and those who mismanaged the abuse? Where were the pundit-publicists while a Church culture failed to recognise what was happening? We need to take a radical new look at the formation of future priests….

The narrow culture of clericalism has to be eliminated. It did not come out of nowhere and so we have to address its roots in seminary training. “

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  • Carl

    The problem is NOT the “narrow culture of clericalism.”

    The problem is that since the 1950s, the Church has thrown consequences and discipline right out the window. We’re eating meat on Fridays, fasting for an hour before communion and saying three hail mary’s after confessing mortal sins. Does anyone here even know what an “ember day” is?

    This is less a problem of conservative vs. liberal or traditional vs. modern than it is a problem of responsibility vs. irresponsibility.

    I’m not saying that going back to the Latin Mass would help anything. I’m saying that we need to recover a sense of true penance, rather than continue to pacify ourselves on warm, fuzzy notions of “reconciliation.” Without penance, there is no reconciliation. Without justice, there is no peace.

  • Ronald King

    Great statement MM. It is a beginning. What follows? Does he address the spiritual effects of clerical abuse being quantumly more harmful than that of a secular perpetrator?

  • Morning’s Minion

    Carl, the most disgusting and egregious abuse took place in Ireland during the pre-Vatican II period, when nobody ate meat on Fridays and when the Church constantly thumped on about the terrors of mortal sin.

    Your analysis is completely and utterly backwards. What caused the crisis was an Irish Jansenism – a cold and insular Church that focused exclusively on rules and “discipline”.

  • Carl


    Read what I wrote again. The problems began BEFORE the Council, not after and not because of it. I am less familiar with the situation of the Church in Ireland, but in the United States, one can see a very clear shift from the O’Connell/Hayes period to the Cushing/Spellman period. In a word, the American church became fat, lazy and unaccountable.

    The problem here is not the retention or abandonment of this or that tradition, but the abandonment of responsibility, discipline and consequences. In other words, the abandonment of these traditions is not the cause of these abuses, but that both stem from a mutual origin.

    I apologize for not expressing myself more clearly.

  • Ronald King

    Carl, I truly believe that the Church has not learned how to love from the leadership down to the everyday practicing clergy. We tend to mirror what is presented to us in public and what do we observe in the general attitude of the public presentation of the Church? I see formality as an attempt to connect but it has failed.
    People want to feel love and they want to feel it passionately coming from the leaders and the clergy.

  • Carl


    I don’t disagree, but I would insist that love requires responsibility, discipline, consequences and accountability. When I look at the bishops and priests of the past 60 years, I see a lot of men who although gentle, warm and affectionate are also emasculated and weak. This is certainly not confined to Catholic hierarchy but is a societal problem running through the United States and Europe.

    I am not saying that gentleness, warmth and affection are “problems,” but that without strength, courage and character, these virtues fall into insouciance and sensualism.

  • Maudie N Mandeville

    And not a word about homosexuals? Laissez faire Vatican II? Comparing the precipitous decline in moral values of Catholics (not to mention in Church attendance) “since Vatican II” is not like B.C./A.D. Those that were in place and waiting in the wings in the late 40’s and 50’s codified their ideology with Vatican II a decade or more later. How else to explain Pope Paul VI acknowledging that Latin would remain the Ordinary while now allowing the vernacular as extraordinary? The Latin Mass and many other traditions were immediately eviscerated. So much so, that it took Benedict to point out that Vatican II had never forbade Latin. Pope Saint Pius X condemned those ‘who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church’. What traditions has Vatican II spawned? 1) Removing the Communion rail so that we no longer have to kneel to adore Christ 2) Lining up to receive the Host like waiting for stamps at the Post Office. The only thing missing is the priest (or is it now a lady deacon?) with a cigar and green visor dealing the wafers out like a card dealer in Vegas. 3) The ‘traditional’ electric guitar with drum set playing Ave’ Maria.
    ‘I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church’. “The true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but men of tradition.” – Pope St Pius X, Encyclical Against Modernism (Pascendi)

    Second Council of Nicea
    “If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the Church, let him be anathema.” – Second Council of Nicea

    Pope Pius XII
    “The day the Church abandons Her universal tongue will be the day before She returns to the Catacombs.” – Pope Pius XII (a few days before his death) 1958

  • Ronald King

    I agree with you Carl. The clergy in general have been denied very important developmental experiences that seem to limit their capacity for empahy and it is true empathy that right action occurs. Research shows at the U of WA that women essentially teach men empathy if the male is open and humble enough. Empathy allows one to be in union with another’s pain and decrease the isolation of suffering within the other.
    There is no discipline nor consequences that will be effective without the wisdom of empathy.

  • Rory Connor

    “The truth will make us free” says Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. However he himself has supported one of the biggest fraudsters in Irish history – a modern Irish equivalent of Maria Monk – while throwing falsely accused clergy to the wolves. To say that he treats his priests as ”guilty until proven innocent” would be putting it mildly as he invited a Bishop to resign even though NO allegation was made against him (Bishop Martin Drennan.)

    He removed a retired Bishop from his role as director of the Archdiocese pilgrimage to Lourdes on the grounds that he had failed to apologise for his failings. Bishop Dermot O’Mahony HAD apologised and had sent a statement to the Communications Office which Martin had seen and suppressed. (The REAL reason was that Bishop O’Mahony disagreed with Martin’s policy.)

    I think it is likely that the “strong forces” he talks about, comprise people whom the Archbishop does not like – for example Bishops O’Mahony and Drennan. Since they disagreed with him, he retaliates by covertly denouncing them.

    The Archbishop is our equivalent of the Red Dean of Canterbury, Hewlett Johnson who got his ”Progressive” reputation by denouncing the evils of Capitalism while praising Comrade Stalin.

    I have recently created a website and my article on Archbishop Martin is at