Church must show ‘a preferential option’ for the abused - Martin

Catholic Archbishop says Church must be ‘a privileged place of healing for survivors’

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said the Church “which talks abut a preferential option for the poor must show unflinchingly a preferential option for those who have been victims of abuse within its fold.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times.

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said the Church “which talks abut a preferential option for the poor must show unflinchingly a preferential option for those who have been victims of abuse within its fold.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times.

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 19:29

The Church “which talks abut a preferential option for the poor must show unflinchingly a preferential option for those who have been victims of abuse within its fold,” the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.

It must “not just be transformed into a place where children are safe. It must also be transformed into a privileged place of healing for survivors.” It must become “a place where survivors, with all their reticence and with all their repeated anger towards the Church, can genuinely come to feel that the Church is a place where they will encounter healing. We are not that kind of Church yet: and by far,” he said tonight (mon).

Speaking in Rome’s Irish College at the annual Anglophone conference, which brings together child safeguarding experts and representatives from the English-speaking Catholic Church, he said “we need to develop a new awareness that what has happened has wounded the entire Church and that now the entire Church is called to put right what has happened.”

Healing, he said “ is not just a question for the counsellors; it is a theological and ecclesiological necessity.”

Dr Martin warned “there are still within the Church some who play down the realities of abuse, or who take short cuts” with guidelines. Doing so, “they damage the Church’s witness to the healing power of Jesus Christ, ” he said.

He also advised against taking comfort in statistics showing abuse by Catholic clergy was not significantly higher than in society.

“The sexual abuse of children on the scale in which it happened should never have occurred in the Catholic Church because Jesus himself tells us that children are a sign of the kingdom of God,” the archbishop added.

Recalling the words of Jesus about leaving the ninety-nine to find the one who is lost, he said it “refers also to our attitude to victims. To some it might seem less than prudent to think that the Church would go out of its way to seek out even more victims and survivors.

“There are those who say that that would only create more anguish and litigation and that it would be asking for trouble and would be more than a little ingenuous.....but, like it or not, that it precisely what Jesus asks us to do.”