Statement of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Today’s Irish Independent newspaper in its main front page headline claims that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has “backed off” claims contained in a recent talk “that there are still worrying signs that despite solid regulations and norms… these are not being followed with the rigour required” and “that there are still strong forces which would prefer that the truth did not emerge”.
The article claims that Archbishop Martin yesterday “broke his silence” and “moved to defuse the row over his claims…”
Archbishop Martin has made no such comment; he has made no such move and stands by the affirmations in his original speech.
Archbishop Martin wishes to state that he fully supports the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. He welcomes the publication of the annual report of the Board yesterday but notes the view of the Chairman of the Board, John Morgan that “clearly a cultural correction is required in the Irish Church to deal with the problem of abuse.”
Archbishop Martin stresses that norms on their own are not enough. They require wholehearted and robust endorsement. These words are echoed in the Report of Mr. Ian Elliot who, while recognising the significant progress made, also notes “this has proved to be demanding for some within the Church who have had difficulty in changing their attitudes to fully embrace a single safeguarding approach”.
The Irish Independent report also alludes to Archbishop Martin’s comments as “criticism of Pope Benedict”. This is a gratuitous misinterpretation made without any grounds. Archbishop Martin’s comments were in fact a reaffirmation of the urgent appeal of Pope Benedict, in his letter to Irish Catholics, on the need “to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community and to do so with courage and determination”.
Archbishop Martin reasserts that anything less than a totally robust response will not be enough. There is no room for slippage.