Archbishop: Ireland Must Face Past, Move Forward

Says Church Must Begin “Painful Path of Renewal”

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DUBLIN, MARCH 22, 2010 ( The archbishop of Dublin is encouraging the Church in Ireland to face the truth of the past, but also to move along “the painful path of renewal.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who is the Primate of Ireland, addressed the sexual abuse crisis facing the nation in his homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, and welcomed Benedict XVI’s letter to Irish Catholics, which was published Saturday.

The Pope’s letter — promised since he met in December with Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady, president of the Irish episcopal conference — responds to the scandal of sexual abuse that is racking the country.

The Holy Father has taken an unprecedented role in helping the Church in Ireland deal with the widespread crisis. After his December meeting, he called all the acting Irish prelates to Rome in February for a two-day summit with himself and high-ranking members of the Curia.

Archbishop Martin said the Pontiff’s letter “deals with a painful chapter in the life of the Irish Church. It deals with a dramatically painful chapter in the lives of the many who were abused.”

He noted that the text is not a specific document on how to manage the crisis, but rather “a much broader reflection of the Pope on the failings of the Church in Ireland and the future of the Church in Ireland.”

“It is a letter for you and for me,” the prelate stated. “It is a letter for each one of us.

“With Benedict XVI, I appeal to each of you to read the Letter and reflect on it. The Church tragically failed many of its children: it failed through abuse; it failed through not preventing abuse; it failed through covering up abuse.”

Back to Christ

Archbishop Martin noted that measures must be taken and constantly updated to protect children, and that laypeople should be more active in the Church so as to “avoid a false culture of clericalism.”

“The Church is called to renew itself in turning back more closely to her founder Jesus Christ,” he continued. “All of us need to learn more deeply how to think like Christ, how to teach like Christ and care as Christ did.”

He urged the faithful to prayer for a period of renewal, and that it lead to “a moment of healing.”

“A precondition of healing is recognition and rejection of the faults of the past, without becoming entrenched and immobilized in history,” Archbishop Martin concluded. “The truth must come out; without the truth we will never be truly free. We must face the truth of the past; repent it; make good the damage done.

“And yet we must move forward day by day along the painful path of renewal, knowing that it is only when our human misery encounters face-to-face the liberating mercy of God that our Church will be truly restored and enriched.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Benedict XVI’s Letter to Ireland:

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