Archbishop Martin: All Must Work Together to Protect Children

Warns Against Breakdown in Church-State Relationships

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DUBLIN, Ireland, JULY 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Dublin is warning against the breakdown of Church-state relationships and urging all members of society to work together to protect children.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said this Wednesday in an interview with the Irish public broadcaster RTE, in which he commented on the findings of the Cloyne report and the aggressive attack on the Vatican that has been launched by the Irish government.

The Report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Diocese of Cloyne, which was released last week, found that Bishop John Magee of Coyne, who resigned in 2010, ignored the 1996 child protection guidelines set down by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference. 

Additionally, it called the "reaction of the Vatican" to the efforts of the Irish bishops to respond to child abuse allegations as "unhelpful to any bishop who wanted to implement the agreed procedures."

The report cited a 1997 letter sent to the Irish bishops' conference that expressed "serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature" regarding the "mandatory reporting" that was stipulated in the guidelines.

The Cloyne report noted that this letter "effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed and gave comfort and support to those who [...] dissented from the stated official Irish Church policy."

In an aggressive attack against the Vatican, Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, called the Cloyne report "a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children."

Speaking to Ireland's lower house of Parliament, or Dail, the leader of the moderate Fine Gael Party noted that the report showed how the Vatican's response to the sexual abuse crisis "was to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer."

He said that the "revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture," and added that the government "awaits the considered response of the Holy See."

Anger and shame

Archbishop Martin said he was "impressed by the emotion" of Kenny, and added that he too was "angry, ashamed and appalled" by those who didn't follow the guidelines set down by the bishops.

"I'm very disappointed and annoyed," he added. "What do you do when you've got systems in place and somebody ignores them?

"What do you do when you have got groups either in the Vatican or in Ireland who try to undermine what is being done or simply refuse to understand what is being done?"

The Primate of Ireland said he had personally delivered over 70,000 documents to the Murphy Commission and "reported every case that I've ever known." He added, "I have never been reprimanded by the Vatican for doing that, so the norms that are there are important."

Archbishop Martin denounced those who "play tricks" with norms, stating that they betray the Church.

He also warned against a breakdown in society: "I don’t want to see a polarization between Church, state, voluntary groups, we all should be working together to see that children are protected."