Dublin Archbishop: Polemics Don't Protect Children

Encourages Church and State to Work Together

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DUBLIN, Ireland, SEPT. 5, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Dublin is calling for all sides to work together in providing a safe environment for children, and to drop the polemics.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said this in a statement released Saturday after the Holy See issued its response to the Cloyne Report, which was published in July.

The Cloyne report found that Bishop John Magee of Coyne, who resigned in 2010, failed to report to the police at least nine of 15 sexual abuse allegations in that period.

Furthermore, it found that the "reaction of the Vatican" to the efforts of the Irish bishops to respond to child abuse allegations was "unhelpful to any bishop who wanted to implement the agreed procedures."

The report cited a 1997 letter sent to the Irish bishops' conference by then-nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero (1926-2000), who stated that the Congregation for Clergy considered the child protection guidelines outlined in "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response" as a mere "study document." It also expressed "serious reservations" regarding mandatory reporting of sexual abuse accusations.

The Cloyne report noted that this letter "effectively gave individual Irish bishops the freedom to ignore the procedures which they had agreed."

Archbishop Martin placed the 1997 within the greater context of the work of the Irish bishops to confront the sexual abuse issue, and noted that, in fact, the letter "did not ... impede the Irish Bishops in unanimously approving the Framework Document, in applying it and in consistently developing that framework into the current positions of the Irish Church."

"The current Standards and Guidance documents have the full support of Pope Benedict XVI as was stated in his Letter to Irish Catholics," he added.

Additionally, the archbishop continued, the letter is said to have given "some people the opportunity to brush aside the Framework Document. But the fact is that these same people who were prepared to brush aside the Framework Document, continued to reject the clear norms approved by Pope Benedict when they were published.

"They were people who regarded only their own views and would take no note of study documents, of Framework Documents or even of approved papal norms. These people may be few but the damage they caused was huge."

Broader questions

Archbishop Martin praised the Vatican response for being "detailed and comprehensive," and for addressing the "broader questions of Church policy on child safeguarding."

"My hope is that it will be understood and received as such and not be an occasion just for added polemics," he said. "Polemics really do very little for the protection of children and the support of survivors."

The archbishop continued: "Honest cooperation between Church and State on child safeguarding issues is particularly important in this country where the Church still plays an important role in communities.

"The primary role and responsibility of the State in ensuring the protection of children must, however, be unambiguously recognized by all."

"We are at a crucial moment regarding the future of child safeguarding in Ireland," the archbishop concluded. "This government is the first government in Irish history to dedicate a full cabinet ministry to children's issues. This augurs well for the future. We need that future to be framed within a climate of cooperation on all sides."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33356?l=english