Diarmuid Martin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, is coming under closer scrutiny than ever before as forces of opposition within the church heckle for his resignation in one of the most volatile eras that the Catholic Church as ever undergone in Ireland.
The Archbishop is reportedly unhappy at the Pope’s refusal to acknowledge the resignation of two bishops criticized in the Murphy report into child sexual abuse in the Church for their failure to address the epidemic and bring the perpetrators to the authorities.
Although Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field both offered their resignations to the Holy See, the Pope has not acknowledged their resignations, meaning that under Canon Law they have no force. The Vatican’s Press Office has refused to comment on the reason why this may be so.
It now seems that the blame-game is turning on Martin himself who is viewed by some as the greatest luminary of the Church in Ireland and by others as a self-serving egoist who is ruthless in his politics and interested only in his own furtherance.
The Archbishop has been caustically critical about the failure of the Church to come to terms with the extent and scope of sex abuse.
In a recent speech delivered at a meeting of the Knights of Columbanus in Dublin, Martin spoke of his concern that there are signs of "subconscious denial" about the extent of the abuse in the Irish Catholic church and how it was covered up.
Those on the inside are also coming out with information that the Archbishop would perhaps not want made public.
One insider told Dublin’s Tribune newspaper how "he is absolutely clear when he is doing public statements. They will have been drafted and gone through meticulously." and how "the media absolutely adore him; from the moment he arrived he has singled this out as an area to be developed."
Martin’s approach to media relations is what perhaps sets him most at odds with his predecessors, who consistently show a preference for conducting sensitive Church business behind firmly closed doors.
Though this degree of openness once more finds its critics even within his own ranks: “he is not collegiate,” said another insider “opting instead to engage in megaphone diplomacy."
Perhaps the most overt example of opposition to Martin within the Church was a specially convened meeting of 25 priests at Manresa retreat house in Dublin last January. The meeting, held behind closed doors, reportedly focused on the Archbishop’s supposed failure to deal adequately with the fallout from the Murphy Reprort.
The minutes of that meeting read: "anger, frustration and a sense of helplessness [were] expressed at the lack of compassion shown by the diocese in recent months, particularly towards the auxiliary bishops. We felt that a grave injustice has been done to men who have loyally served this diocese with selfless commitment and Christ-like compassion."
Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Dermot O'Mahony, himself criticized in the Report, earlier this year criticized Martin for his public comment that the management of cases was "inexcusable".
Critics say that Martin has few friends and lives quite a solitary existence. It’s believed that his further and growing isolation in the Church is leaving him with a dearth of support within his own ranks, and that the time could be ripe for an easy coup.
It’s also believed that his influence with the Pope himself is on the wane. One abuse survivor told Martin after his return from a trip to Rome that it seemed as if he’d had his wings clipped, something which he denied.
Another Church ‘insider’ summarized the Archbishop’s problem:"he is almost totally isolated, there is a deep sense of grievance against him in the wider church. It would be far better for him to bring people with him, perhaps by engaging in a root-and-branch listening exercise. He is clearly not happy in the job."