Irate priests critical of Archbishop Martin


A MEETING of priests has heard demands that Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin be confronted over his handling of the fallout from the Murphy report on clerical child sex abuse.

It also heard claims that the archbishop had become “a source of division” among priests and bishops. About 25 Dublin priests attended the meeting at Manresa retreat house on January 18th. Details of the minutes of the meeting are reported in the latest edition of the Irish Catholic published today.

The minutes state that the majority of priests in attendance were middle-aged and all got a chance to speak. The meeting was specially convened to discuss the Murphy report.

“Anger, frustration and a sense of helplessness [were] expressed at the lack of compassion shown by the diocese in recent months, particularly towards the auxiliary bishops,” the minutes report.

“We felt that a grave injustice has been done to men who have loyally served this diocese with selfless commitment and Christ-like compassion.”

The minutes go on to say that priests were “dumbfounded” by Dr Martin’s letter to former auxiliary bishop Donal O’Mahony. “To say his good name had been tarnished was untrue, cruel and insulting.”

In the letter, Dr Martin had asked Dr O’Mahony to refrain from publicly administering Confirmation and to cease his association with a charity bringing disabled children to Lourdes. He also withdrew his invitation to Dr O’Mahony to sit at meetings of the diocesan council.

Dr O’Mahony, in turn, claimed Dr Martin had failed to support priests in the Dublin diocese following publication of the Murphy report. He also called on priests to challenge the acceptance by media, and diocese policy, that the church engaged in a “cover up”.

The clerical meeting also heard claims that Dr Martin spoke to his auxiliaries through the media. And in television interviews he seemed to have more in common with his obvious opponents than his bishops.

“He enjoyed a good honeymoon period with the press . . . but now there is a general feeling that the archbishop is a source of division among his priests and among his fellow bishops,” the minutes state. “Justice demands that he be confronted and told that if he is about reform, then his priests and the laity . . . need to be part of the entire process. We are no longer content to be puppets of the diocese.”

The meeting heard claims that Dr Martin had a “dictatorial manner” and said it had emerged “not just now but from the first day he returned to Drumcondra”.

The minutes also claim that the chairman of the Council of Priests, Fr Joe Mullan, who appeared on television and radio after the Murphy report, had no mandate from the council to speak on its behalf and priests asked if he had a mandate from the archbishop.

The meeting heard agreement that no critical analysis of the Murphy report had been carried out “and this should take place as a matter of urgency”. It also noted the silence of Cardinal Desmond Connell on the issue.

The Irish Catholic article said several resolutions were tabled but were not voted on due to lack of time. They included a resolution inviting the Office for Priests to organise events to allow priests perform acts of personal reparation for the sins of clerical abuse.

The archbishop’s communications office said last night that it couldn’t comment on the minutes because it had not seen them.

Irish Catholic editor Garry O’Sullivan said it was clear now that, “ at least among some priests there is dismay . . . about the fact that the archbishop appears to give the impression that he is not willing to defend the reputation of the many good priests not implicated in the Murphy report”.