Monday, September 11, 2023

'Priests were angry at me for speaking out over abuse' – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

THE former Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has revealed how he invoked the ire of other priests after speaking out over child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Speaking to Joe Duffy for RTÉ’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ programme on Sunday night, the 78-year-old retired cleric recalled the reaction to his public condemnations following the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports in 2009.

As Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Martin handed over 80,000 documents to the Murphy Commission.

“There were a lot of priests who were very angry with me because I began talking about this subject,” he said.

“It was only later on that many of them realised we did have a very serious problem with these habitual paedophiles.”

In 2012, Dr Martin called for an independent international commission of inquiry into the crimes of notorious paedophile priest, Brendan Smyth.

“I was angry at what happened to those poor kids,” he said.

Asked if he had confronted any of the abusers, he responded: “Some of them were very devious. Very few would show real remorse.

“Some certainly would have abused over a hundred children. Obviously, they were sick men and criminals.

“They manipulated the bishop; they manipulated the families [and] they manipulated the children.”

In the wide ranging interview, Dr Martin also told Joe Duffy he was once “close” to falling in love with a woman who he’s still in contact with.

He said there had been two people who could have become life partners, but he said he chose the priesthood instead.

Asked if he was ever in love, he said:  “Close I would say, but again it was, and is, a mature relationship.”

Still in contact with the woman, he added: “Occasionally, she taught me what WhatsApp is.”

Recalling his own training, he said he emerged from the seminary in 1969 after seven years to “a different Ireland, to a different church and different world”.

He said: “I mean the idea of a priest being married or being in love would never have been thought of.

“We were never trained for celibacy, we didn’t talk about it, you were just cut from the world.

“Priests are not concrete blocks, they do have emotions, they do have a need for affection.

“It can be very lonely and very frustrating.

But on female priests, Dr Martin said:  “I don't see, in any way, that women priests will be something we will see in my lifetime.”

However, the high profile cleric admitted the Catholic Church has been on the losing side in both the same-sex marriage and abortion referenda in the Republic.

“The Church has got so caught up in the dogmatic rights and wrongs, absolute rights and wrongs, that it's lost the context,” he said.