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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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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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