Friday, June 11, 2010

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

I have just finished my profile of Diarmuid Martin on - well for the time being anyway). This is the Introduction:

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Diarmuid Martin was consecrated Archbishop of Dublin in April 2004 - about the same time that John Cooney was appointed Religious Affairs correspondent for the Irish Independent. He seems never to have made any comment on Cooney's allegation that Martin great predecessor John Charles McQuaid was a homosexual paedophile. In fact the two seem to have a very friendly relationship - based on the Archbishop's efforts to tackle the issue of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Archbishop's method seems to be to accept ANY allegation at face value and treat a priest as guilty until proven innocent.

The Archbishop has also made friends with liberal journalists by declining to criticise homosexual acts or the Government's proposal to give "gay" civil unions a status very close to marriage.

Shortly after he became Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin held a two- hour meeting with Kathy O'Beirne who told of rapes, beatings and torture she said she had witnessed some 30 years before in a Magdalene Laundry. After the meeting she told the Irish Independent that she and the other girls in care were subject to regular abuse at the hands of religious members and lay people in the laundries. She herself was regularly beaten. One night, she said she watched in horror as a 14-year-old friend was repeatedly raped by five men. However she was now confident that, with the help of Archbishop Martin, the truth will be told. "When I saw him on Wednesday, a feeling of great relief came over me. I could see the compassion and pain on his face," she said.

Kathy O'Beirne was never in any Magdalene institution. The Archbishop's "compassion" for a false accuser is the obverse of his complete lack of concern for his falsely accused priests.

In June 2007, Paul Anderson was convicted of falsely accusing a priest of raping him while giving him prayer tuition 25 years previously. In a statement to the court the priest said that as a result of Anderson and the One-in-Four group going to the Archbishop of Dublin, he was instantly suspended from ministry. "Without any due process, my diocese - in this Guantanamo Bay reaction - had me stand aside from my work as a priest. I had to leave my house and home and stay with family and friends, and I lost almost a year out of my pastoral work." He described the allegations against him as being like a case of armed robbery, with the accuser using his name and reputation in order to extract money from the Church.

The most egregious example is the Archbishop's treatment of retired auxiliary Bishop Dermot O'Mahony. The Archbishop removed Bishop O'Mahony from his position as director of the archdiocese's pilgrimage to Lourdes on the basis that “I regret that you did not express any public clarification or remorse or apology” (letter dated 2 December 2009). However Bishop O’Mahony had sent a statement to the Archbishop’s Director of Communications Annette O’Donnell on 27 October 2009 which concluded : “I profoundly regret that any action or inaction of mine should have contributed to the suffering of even a single child. I want to apologise for my failures from the bottom of my heart”. The statement was not published by the Communications Office but Annette O'Donnell confirmed that the Archbishop had seen it. He made no apology to Dermot O'Mahony and indeed continued to criticise him.

In November 2009 the Archbishop invited the Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan who had previously been an auxiliary Bishop of Dublin to "consider his position" after the publication of the Murphy Report. While the Report mentions Bishop Drennan, it makes no criticism whatsoever of his conduct! In order to consolidate his status as a media hero, does the Archbishop want to hand the media as many heads as possible on a platter?

On 10 May 2010 the Archbishop gave a speech to the Knights of Columbanus in which he spoke about the way "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". He gave no indication of whom he meant. There was a mysterious passage that made media headlines about "strong forces which would prefer that the truth (about child abuse) did not emerge." What "forces"? Archbishop Martin did not provide the answer. Pundits speculated that he meant "forces" like Cardinal Sean Brady, and even the Pope himself. It is more likely that he meant his own critics like Bishop O' Mahony and Bishop Drennan. Perhaps this is the Archbishop's way of getting back at them while generating publicity for himself? Even some of his media supporters described the speech as meaningless and child abuse watchdog Ian Elliot indicated that he did not know what Martin was talking about because "the Archbishop's knowledge exceeds mine"!

However an article by John Cooney in the Irish Independent on 20 June 2009 may point to the shape of things to come. Cooney quotes Martin as acknowledging that, when he was a young seminarian in the 1960s, he knew about physical abuse in Artane and asks "Why was good guy Martin silent so long". Perhaps John Cooney who slandered Martin's great predecessor John Charles McQuaid, will decide that the current Archbishop has served his purpose as a media stooge?

In the meantime on Easter Sunday 4 April 2010, the Archbishop was confronted and heckled by former residents of institutions run by religious when he arrived to say Mass at the Pro-Cathedral. About a dozen protested outside the cathedral after having draped its railings in pairs of infants’ shoes, with black ribbons attached. John Ayers, who “was beaten every day to make me a Catholic”, told the Archbishop: “Your church is not welcome in my country any more. It is a Nazi religion. I want it to leave my country, I want you to leave my country.” In May Mr Ayres went on to hold a hunger strike outside the Archbishops house in Drumcondra and lined the road outside with children's shoes to symbolise the victims of institutional abuse.

It seems possible that the Archbishop will be devoured by the demons he released with his combination of indiscriminate apologies AND his failure to defend the innocent.

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