Pope Francis missed a remarkable opportunity to establish his popularity with the Irish faithful by refusing a red hat to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Francis announced 19 new cardinals, but Martin was not among them.
Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, was one of the candidates who was in line for a promotion according to the National Catholic
Ireland matches one of the key criteria as it will have no
cardinal-elector for a future pope after Cardinal Sean Brady retires
The other cardinal is the elderly Desmond Connell, retired Archbishop of Dublin.
nomination would also have fulfilled a profound desire among the laity
to have his remarkable work on child abuse and removing abusive priests
There were many times when Martin seemed alone in
forcing the issue and making the church stand up and confess the many
abuses they covered up, especially moving pedophile priests around.
cardinal Sean Brady was hopelessly compromised by his own shady
see-no-evil behavior when he tried to silence two young witnesses to
abuse by the worst offender of all, Father Brendan Smyth, a truly evil
pedphile whose male and female vicitms in Ireland and America numbered
in the hundreds.
Martin endured harsh criticism from within his
own colleagues, especially fellow bishops, for his outspoken stance on
abuse and the need to combat it.
It also seemed at times that Pope
Benedict was doing as little as possible to assist him.
by the laity, Martin was and still is a controversial figure among his
peers because of his outspokenness and his determination to leave no
As the senior clergyman left standing after
Brady’s retirement he should surely have expected that this pope would
reward him for his pastoral work and deep integrity on the paramount
issue of the time.
For Francis it would have continued his
sweeping new broom’s clean-up and shown that the broom extended into
dark corners in Ireland too.
Alas, it was not to be and the pope
has missed an outstanding opportunity to make a profound statement about
where the church in Ireland should be headed.
It is an omission he may come to regret.