Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has made an astonishing attack against the Irish Catholic Church as it reels from one sex abuse scandal to another.
Williams, speaking to the BBC, gave a forthright opinion on the state of the Catholic faith in Ireland.
"I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now,” said the Anglican Archbishop.
"And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility - that's not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, was so infuriated by Williams'' outburst the he was compelled to release the following statement:
"The unequivocal and unqualified comment... has stunned me," the statement reads.
"As Archbishop of Dublin, I have been more than forthright in addressing the failures of the Catholic Church in Ireland. I still shudder when I think of the harm that was caused to abused children. I recognize that their Church failed them.
"But I also journey with those -- especially parents and priests -- who work day by day to renew the Catholic Church in this diocese and who are committed to staying with their Church and passing on the faith in wearying times.
"Archbishop Williams' comments will be for them immensely disheartening and will challenge their faith even further.
"Those working for renewal in the Catholic Church in Ireland did not need this comment on this Easter weekend and do not deserve it.
"In all my years as Archbishop of Dublin in difficult times I have rarely felt personally so discouraged as this morning when I woke to hear Archbishop Williams' comments."
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