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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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