Archbishop Diarmuid Martin shed tears on "60 Minutes" tonight as he recounted asking to see a class of eight-year old boys in a Dublin school so he could imagine what it was like for them to be abused.
He did so after meeting a man who was horrifically abused at that age by a priest in his own archdiocese.
It was an emotional highpoint of a "60 Minutes" profile that portrayed Martin as a hero of the Irish church and a voice for the children who had been abused.
The Irish Times Religious Affairs correspondent Patsy McGarry made it clear that Martin alone among the top hierarchy had come to the aid of those abused by releasing the documents detailing the charges against hundreds of priests.
He alone among top church figures retained the loyalty of the faithful, McGarry said, pointing out that his boss, Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of All Ireland, had been totally compromised after admitting covering up allegations made by boys many years ago into the notorious pedophile Father Brendan Smyth.
By so doing Martin clearly saved many other children from abuse and stopped the cover up..
The "60 Minutes" show painted a devastating portrait of the downfall of the church in Ireland with vocations plummeting and fall off in attendance as dramatic as only 2 per cent mass attendance in some parishes, down from over 90 per cent.
Martin is the one bright star remaining in that church and his stand off with Rome and those continuing the abuse cover up was clearly outlined on "60 Minutes."
As I stated last week here Martin is the greatest living Irishman a man who has told truth to power in the most courageous and straightforward way. The "60 Minutes" profile merely underlined that.
He has refused to tolerate child abuse practitioners among his clergy, has named and shamed them and has handed over every available file on them to the proper authorities.
His acts have made him deeply unpopular in Rome and among those apologists who would somehow make child abuse a temporary little evil in the Catholic Church.
Church in Ireland at a breaking point says Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on “60 Minutes”
Half of Americans unaware St. Patrick is patron saint of Ireland
Four star Donegal hotel sold for one tenth of boom time price
He is a turbulent priest, a popular figure in Irish history who stands with his people not the powers that be.
For that reason he is Ireland’s greatest living person. The "60 Minutes" profile will only add to the legend.