The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has said that it is inconceivable that no-one should accept responsibility for the clerical abuse that has destroyed so many lives in Ireland.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told a conference at the Marquette University in Milwaukee that he ‘cannot accept a situation that no one need assume accountability’ following the findings of the Murphy report into clerical child abuse.
The Archbishop also told the conference that such a scenario could not be allowed: ‘In the face of the terrible damage that was done to children in the church of Christ in Dublin and in the face of how that damage was addressed’.
The Dublin Archbishop recalled the reaction of his clergy when the Murphy report was published in November 2009.
He said: “The responses seemed to be saying that it was all due to others or at most it was due to some sort of systems fault in the diocesan administration.
“Within days of the first ritualistic expressions of regret at what the report revealed, people were quickly encountering a church of silence. No one was accountable.”
“There were even those who claimed that I should challenge Judge Murphy herself and the quality of her report. No report can ever be without its defects, but in its essence the Murphy report illustrated a reality which can only be described as horrendous.
“All I did at the time, it was said, was to recognize the failures of priests and bishops.”
In his speech, Dr Martin was critical of the manner in which the Dublin Diocese in particular and the Catholic Church in general responded to the Murphy Report.
He added: “In the face of the disastrous situation revealed in the Murphy report, the minimum I expected was that there would have been recognition that the decisions taken were the wrong ones and that they should be recognized as having been wrong.
“During the Murphy commission investigation I could not speak about what was emerging and was left in an invidious situation. Priests were suspicious of me, feeling that I was allowing uncontrolled access to their personal information.
“In fact, the commission required discovery only of documents regarding individual priests who had been the subject of allegation or suspicion. There was no generalized handing over of documents.”
The Archbishop also revealed that his office has received a series of fresh complaints since the publication of the Murphy Report.
“We have received more and more complaints especially about a number of serial pedophiles who had been ministering in the diocese over a long period of time,” added Archbishop Martin.
“It is generally accepted that the number of children who were abused must run into thousands, possibly by about 10 priests who were clearly serial pedophiles.”