Thursday, December 24, 2009

Church urged to respond strongly

THERE IS a need for the Catholic Church as an institution to “re-establish its moral authority with the people and to show its ability to respond proportionally to the implications of the [Murphy] report,” Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said.

Mr Cowen said the church in Ireland “has to retrieve its moral authority” and that it was “a matter for it to decide how they are going to do that”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Gerry Ryan Show yesterday, he said “the institution of the church in Ireland has taken a huge battering in terms of its reputation and it’ll have to be rehabilitated by those who have the authority in that area to do so. That’s an issue, a task and a consequence that they will have to deal with”.

He added “our job is to ensure that everyone is amenable to the law and as you know this matter has been referred by the Garda Commissioner to an assistant to deal with any issues that arise out of that report”.

“The faith will survive. People have always had a deep and abiding faith in this community, not just the Catholic community but the Protestant community, the religious faith community generally.” For his own part he was “a Catholic, born into the Catholic Church. I do the best I can.”

Meanwhile, a retired spokesman for Ireland’s Catholic bishops, Jim Cantwell, has said the response of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray was “so terse as to be graceless”.

In a letter to The Irish Times today, Mr Cantwell said: “It is ironic that the archbishop said he appreciated ‘the personal difficulty and pressure’ Bishop Murray had been under, since much of that pressure had been created by Dr Martin’s mighty media megaphone.”

He said “Bishop Murray’s resignation had obviously become inevitable and of course the archbishop had to comment on it, but did his words have to sound so dismissive? There was not a single word acknowledging Bishop Murray’s impressive contribution to the church and society.

“Whatever Bishop Murray’s failings, he has given many years of invaluable service to the diocese of Dublin, as pastor, theologian and bishop, to his adopted diocese of Limerick, and to the whole Irish church. All this he has done with a quiet dignity and style.”

Mr Cantwell referred to Bishop Murray’s significant contribution to preparation of the church’s 1996 framework document (child protection guidelines) which, with “the acknowledged improvements in practice which followed its publication, are part of the legacy Archbishop Martin inherited when he succeeded to the see of Dublin in 2003”, he said.

Elsewhere, survivor Christine Buckley has written an open letter to Pope Benedict inviting him to Ireland where he might assist Archbishop Martin in “a major spring cleaning” of the church.

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