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opinion/commentary View Comments

Half-truths Not Enough
By Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin
Source: Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
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The following excerpts are taken from Archbishop Martin's address at the Marquette University International Dialogue on the Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal on April 4, 2011. The entire address can be found here.

My reflections this morning are very much personal in tone. I have no special expertise in the area of restorative justice. I am not an expert in child safeguarding and I have no formal training in how to deal with the complex question of the clergy sexual abuse scandal. I would, however, not be telling the truth if I did not say that, despite my unpreparedness, I have acquired a good deal of personal experience over the past years. It is on the basis of that experience I speak.
.....

I tell these events not to re-open history, but to illustrate just how difficult it is to bring an institution around to the conviction that the truth must be told. All institutions have an innate tendency to protect themselves and to hide their dirty laundry.  We have to learn that the truth has a power to set free which half-truths do not have. The first condition for restorative justice is that all parties are willing to tell the truth and to take ownership of the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant.   As I said at a recent liturgy of lament in Dublin: “The truth will set us free, but not in a simplistic way.  The truth hurts.  The truth cleanses not like smooth designer soap but like a fire that burns and hurts and lances”.
 
  .....
 
I provided the Murphy Commission with almost 70,000 documents.  I believe I did the right thing.  I believed I was doing the right thing and I was more and more convinced I was doing the right thing the more I read those documents and as I met with some of those who were the victims of abuse and their parents and their spouses and their children. 
 
 
Reading the final report of the Commission brought out for me even more clearly the extent of the problem that existed in the Archdiocese of Dublin and the extent of the suffering it brought with it and which still exists today.   The dominant emotion I experienced in reading documents and meeting victims was anger; anger at what was done to children; anger at the grief of parents who live still today with feelings of guilt and bewilderment; anger at the fact that the Church failed its weakest; anger at those who still seem to be in denial.
.....

What was documented in the Murphy Report is horrendous. The Archdiocese of Dublin got it spectacularly wrong.  All I found I could say on the publication of the Report was that the Archdiocese of Dublin got it spectacularly wrong; spectacularly wrong “full stop”, not spectacularly wrong “but”.


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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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