The child sex abuse scandal is “not an invention of the media” as some claimed the embattled Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said yesterday.
He said Catholics in Ireland were rightly shocked not just by the sex abuse crimes but by the way the crimes were handled by the hierarchy.
Speaking in Rimini at the gathering of the Italian Catholic lay group, Communione E Liberazione, Martin made hard hitting defence of his zero tolerance policy which observers say has been seriously undermined by the Vatican decision to reinstate two bishops he had forced to retire. He was given a long ovation by the 2,500 leading Italian Catholics in attendance
Martin stated many religious in Ireland were completely out of touch with what was happening to the faith in Ireland.
“The problem is that many in Ireland and in the Irish church . . . continue to act as if they were still living in a majority Catholic culture. Instead he said “Ireland is undergoing a true revolution in its religious culture.
“Many foreign observers still think that Ireland is a stronghold of traditional Catholicism. They are surprised to discover, as I was when I returned to Ireland (in 2004), that there are parishes in Dublin where Mass attendance on Sundays is less than 5 per cent, or even as low as 2 per cent in some cases.
He said much of the media coverage was misinfomed but“ Nonetheless, it has to be underlined without any ambiguity that the scandal of the sex abuse of children by priests and religious in Ireland truly is a scandal and not an invention of the media.
“It is the faithful of all ages who are scandalised not only by the facts of the abuse but above all by the manner in which horrible abuses of children were treated by the hierarchy . . .”