THE CATHOLIC Church is experiencing a testing time, having been rocked by the barbs of a “secular and godless culture” on the outside and the “sins and crimes of priests” within, Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe has said.
Dr Boyce, who has promised to publish a report into clerical abuse in his diocese soon, urged Catholics not to lose confidence in their faith and to act with hope and patience during the current difficult times for the church.
“The moment of history we live through in Ireland at present is certainly a testing one for the church and for all of us,” he said. “Attacked from the outside by the arrows of a secular and godless culture, rocked from the inside by the sins and crimes of priests and consecrated people, we all feel the temptation to lose confidence.”
Dr Boyce said the current troubles seemed to be the worst ever for the church but that this was “simply because they are the ones we struggle through at present”.
“Simply to worry and fret makes the anguish fester within us. We do not deny them but rather take them as our share in Christ’s redeeming sufferings.”
Dr Boyce made the comments, which were not released to journalists until Tuesday night, during the novena at the Marian shrine in Knock, Co Mayo, at the weekend.
The review of the diocese by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church investigated all complaints or allegations of clerical child sex abuse made to the diocese between 1975 and this year.
It is expected to be published next month.
The diocese was previously accused of covering up abuse perpetrated by convicted paedophile Fr Eugene Greene, who served as a priest in Raphoe in the 1980s and early 1990s.
To date, six dioceses have been audited fully by the board. It is hoped the process will be completed in all 26 dioceses by mid-2012.
Dr Boyce has said all allegations made known to the Raphoe diocese were reported to the Garda and the Health Service Executive, and that he gave the inquiry team his full co-operation and access to diocese files.
Earlier this month, Dr Boyce, who has seen draft copies of the board’s report, described an article in the Irish Independent about the inquiry as “alarmist” and “not in the public interest”.
It said “hundreds and hundreds of victims” in the diocese were abused “again and again”, while the church “actively prevented” investigations by the civil authorities.
He said he intended to complain formally about the matter.