Past cannot be ignored, Martin tells parishioners


ARCHBISHOP'S HOMILY:THERE CAN be no overlooking or rewriting of the past, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. In a homily at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass in Dublins Pro-Cathedral, he spoke of the difficult time it has been for priests.

“Shameful abuse took place within the Church of Christ. The response was hopelessly inadequate. I do not wish to give the impression that I want to go on forever hammering home a message of grief about the past, that I am obsessed with the past. Some ask me: ‘Can we not leave all that aside now, proclaim closure and move on?’ I cannot agree.”

He continued “there can be no overlooking the past. There is no short-cut in addressing the past. The credibility of the church in this diocese of Dublin will only be regained when we honestly recognise the failures of the past, whatever our share of responsibility for them. There can be no rewriting history. There is no way we should impose fast-track healing on those whose vulnerability was abused.”

He added: “We have to address the past but we cannot become imprisoned in the past.”

In the first place, “we must turn to Jesus”, he said. “We must move forward, but we can only do so bearing within us the wounds of what has happened. Yet recognising our woundedness may indeed be our strength, if we witness more authentically to the Jesus who renounced all arrogance of power,” he said.

He also said, “we should never overlook the fact that we share the same Baptism with Christians of other confessions . . . We need to develop new and more practical forms of common ecumenical witness.” He thanked the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin John Neill “for his unfailing kindness”.

Earlier in his homily, greeting all priests who minister in Dublin, he said “it has not been an easy year for the diocese. It has not been an easy year for the priests of Dublin as we all grapple with a dark moment in the past history of our presbyterium.”

He noted how, in his recent letter, Pope Benedict “reached out to priests who feel discouraged and even abandoned. ‘I am also aware,’ he said, ‘that in some people’s eyes, you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others’.”

Archbishop Martin thanked the priests of the diocese “for the continued commitment to their calling. I thank the lay members of our parish communities for the support you have given to your priests at a moment which was trying for all of us.

“I thank the priests whose first thoughts in the midst of such a situation went out not to themselves, but to the victims and survivors and their families and also to the need for reparation and renewal in the life of the church.”

He thanked the many people who had written to him in recent months and also “those who have been frank and even sharp in their criticism of the past and of the slowness of the present”.