1. Skip to content

National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Catholic Church stepped beyond its legitimate role in Ireland, says Archbishop

The second highest ranking clergyman in Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, launched a blistering attack last week on the corruption at the heart of his own church saying that it had overstepped the mark in Ireland and taken on a role that was illegitimate.

Martin said that the child abuse scandal was only a symptom of a bigger malaise at the heart of the Church. He said it was self-centred and arrogant.

Archbishop Martin made his remarks during mass at the Church of the Assumption in Ballyfermot, the former parish of ex-priest Tony Walsh who was jailed last week for sexually abusing three boys. They also came a day after the WikiLeaks revelations that the Vatican was offended by requests for information from the Murphy Commission into clerical sex abuse.

Archbishop Martin told parishioners in Ballyfermot, where he grew up, that he had come to renew his apologies for the church’s hushing up Walsh’s horrendous catalogue of abuse during the 1970s and 1980s. “I apologise unreservedly,” he said. “As I look back, I see more clearly that the catastrophic manner in which the abuse was dealt with was a symptom of a deeper malaise within the Irish church.”

The church had drifted into a position where “its role in society had grown beyond what is legitimate”, he said. “It acted as a world apart. It had often become self-centred and arrogant. It felt that it could be forgiving of abusers in a simplistic manner and rarely empathised with the hurt of children.”

The Murphy Report identified 320 people who complained of child sexual abuse between 1975 and 2004 in the Dublin archdiocese.

See also:

Another chapter in the Vatican’s shame over child abuse

Pope launches another attack on secularism

Published Fri, 17 Dec 2010