In an interview with the Boston Globe, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin discussed Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s assignment to assess the clergy abuse crisis in the Irish Catholic church and assist the church in its response.
He also made some controversial comments about Irish Americans.
The Archbishop said he had no relatives in the United States, which he admits is unusual for an Irish person.
“So I have no feeling for Irish-Americanism. I don’t understand it . . . American sentimentalism for a country they don’t know, it’s not my dish,” he said.
“… I’m in no way anti-American. I like the United States and I had a lot of dealings in my past on a professional level with the church and politics. I would have known a lot of American diplomats, and senior American diplomats. I have a lovely photograph of Hillary Clinton — not only a signed one, but with a message.”
When asked if Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Irish roots helped him understand the Irish church Martin disagreed.
“That might insult him . . . In fact, coming to Ireland and playing the Irish-American card can actually be — today, there would be a certain amount of skepticism. I remember a man saying to me one day in Rome, he said, ‘Goodbye now, and begorra.’ I think he thought he was being nice. But ‘begorra’ is the sort of thing you see in the American-Irish leprechaun films. We don’t say ‘begorra.’
He’s an American churchman, I’m an Irish churchman . . . What we have in common is not our Irishness, it’s our Catholicity. And both of us, we’re doing the same job.
O’Malley, who was appointed by the Pope as Visitor to Dublin, has had experience dealing with clerical abuses in the United States. Regarding Cardinal O’Malley’s visitation to Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had this to say: “I believe we still have a great need to waken up people in the Irish church. There’s a lot of burying heads in the sand. And there’s a real danger that the child sexual abuse, because it’s so difficult to deal with, it could become a way for people not to face the very serious issue about what we’re supposed to be doing. . . The dangers is, in times of trouble and pressure, the temptation is, ‘Let’s stick to the old show, we know the rules, they worked in the past.’... But we’re gone beyond that stage. Now, I didn’t say the church of Ireland had gone beyond the brink of collapse.”
When asked about his relationship with the priests in his own archdiocese, he said, “I think the one thing that priests would say is that in managing this particular crisis, with one or two moments, they would say that they were lucky they had a person who was able to deal with it.
“I mean, laypeople stop me on the street and say to me the most aggressive things, like, ‘Keep at it! Knock them down! Don’t take any nonsense from them!’ Extraordinarily strong things. ‘We’re behind you!’ . . . I think that the practically unconditional collaboration I gave to the Murphy Report (a government commission’s investigation of abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin) — I think people said, and I think most priests would say, ‘It had to be done, and you did it, and you did it the right way.’ But I don’t want to be talking about myself. “