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Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on Sunday’s “60 Minutes” Photo by: CBS Screengrab

Church in Ireland at a breaking point says Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on “60 Minutes”

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Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on Sunday’s “60 Minutes” Photo by: CBS Screengrab

The Church is at a breaking point over the child sex abuse scandals says Dublin’s outspoken Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on Sunday’s “60 Minutes”, the most popular news show on television.

Martin tells CBS reporter Bob Simon that it is entirely due to the child sex abuse scandal. “Now is not the time to forget,” he says.

"There's a real danger today of people saying, ‘The child abuse scandal is over. Let's bury it.  Let's move on,’” he tells Simon.

“It isn't over. Child protection and the protection of children is something that will go on…for the rest of our lives and into the future. Because the problems are there,” says the archbishop. 

Bob Simon’s report looks at how the sexual abuse scandal in Ireland has transformed the way of life.

He shows how the child sex abuse crisis and cover-up in the Catholic Church in Ireland has taken a devastating toll on one of the most Catholic countries in the world. Some parishes that once saw 90 percent Sunday Mass attendance are down to two percent.

A country that once produced so many priests that they were considered an important export now doesn’t have enough for its own churches the report finds.

Despite the publication of the Murphy Commission’s report, a scathing analysis of the abuse and cover-up, the scandal is not over, says Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, one of the highest ranking church officials to openly criticize the Catholic Church.

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When Martin became archbishop, he provided the Murphy Commission investigating child abuse  with 65,000 files his predecessor had refused to turn over. In his sermons, he confronted the Church head-on for the behavior that caused the scandal.

Martin takes Simon on a tour of his old seminary in Dublin. “When I entered this building…there were 120 of us, and they were building a new extension. At the moment, I have 10 seminarians.”

In the Southwest of Ireland, Simon talks to the people of Allihies, Cork, who remember when the parish priest had more power than the mayor or the police chief. It was a special status that set the stage for the abuse and the cover-up.

Says Monica Polly, a parish council member in the town, “They cover it up because the priests were supposed to be perfect. They had an image of what they should be and they kept to that image rather than the reality.” She has grown pessimistic. “To be honest, I don't think we've seen it all yet.”

Simon also talks to a priest, the Rev. Shane Crombie, who is optimistic about the future of the Church. Crombie uses the analogy of fire to describe the Church’s troubles. He keeps a charred cross on the altar of his church, a remnant of the original building rebuilt after burning down 25 years ago. It’s a reminder that the Catholic Church, too, can emerge from the flames that have engulfed it.

“I think the fire that's burning in the church at the moment is…the fire of disappointment, the fire of absolute rejection…of cover-up,” he tells Simon.  “It is the people, it was the people that rallied together to rebuild this church. It will be the people who will rebuild the church that is on fire,” says Crombie.

The archbishop speaks to Bob Simon for a 60 MINUTES report about the effects of the scandal on Ireland to be broadcast Sunday, March 4 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Here’s a clip of the “60 Minute” report:

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