Archbishop asks child safeguard body to be 'brutally honest' in job


Protection of children is “pro-life”, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has said. “It is about a fundamental vision of the Christian life, about a Jesus who reminded all of us that children are a sign of the kingdom of God and that therefore our attitude to children tells us a lot about our understanding of the kingdom of God,” he said.

Speaking at Clonliffe College on Saturday to the Dublin archdiocese’s new child safeguarding committee, he called on them “to be brutally honest and uncompromising” in their work. He said he needed to learn from their vision and, where necessary, “I need to hear your criticisms of where I make mistakes. In the past deference may have seemed the correct tone. We have seen the results which have left thousands of lives broken in this diocese alone.”

Respecting lives

Child safeguarding was “not yesterday’s issue but one which belongs to our today and to our tomorrow. It is not just about the negative shadows which have darkened and damaged our church. It is really about how we as Catholic Christians respect the lives of the youngest and the most vulnerable. Child safeguarding is a truly pro-life witness,” he said.

Also on Saturday, at a Mass held to mark the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Christian and Presentation Brothers’ founder Edmund Rice to Dublin, he said: “It would not be honest of me not to mention that I have also listened to stories of children whose experience in schools and institutions run by the Brothers saddened me.”

“But,” he added, “it would be even less honest of me not to remember the many stories that I have heard which were precisely the opposite.” There were so many men who “if asked what was the most significant factor that influenced their education . . . would say it was ‘Brother A’, someone who they feel was simply there with every fibre of his being to ensure that young people got on in life and . . . went into the world contented and with success”.