Page last updated at 20:22 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Archbishop Martin 'weakened' by Pope meeting

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said victims' expectations had been too high

An archbishop who had been an outspoken critic of the Irish Catholic Church's handling of abuse, has been "weakened" after meeting the Pope, victims claim.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, met groups representing survivors of clerical child sex abuse on Friday, after his return from Rome.

They expressed anger that the church has not yet unequivocally accepted responsibility for covering up abuse.

The archbishop's spokeswoman said victims were being too pessimistic.

Friday's meeting was the first clerical meeting with survivors following the Pope's unprecedented two-day summit with a delegation of Irish bishops, called to discuss the Catholic Church's response to last year's Murphy report.

The report found church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese knew that children were being sexually abused by priests for decades but did not act to prevent it.

'Wings clipped'

Archbishop Martin, who made an emotional public apology to victims on the day the report was published, has now faced criticism from both abuse survivors and from within the clergy over his response.

Retired Auxiliary Bishop Dermot O'Mahony, who was mentioned in the report, claimed Dr Martin had not done enough to support priests or to challenge the accusation of a cover-up.

Speaking after meeting with the archbishop on Friday, abuse survivor Marie Collins said she was in "despair" as he did not appear to be as strong in his approach to the issue as he had been before he left for Rome earlier this week.

She also accused the Vatican of "clipping" Dr Martin's wings in relation to his response to the abuse, a claim which he denied.

Ms Collins said the two most important issues for her were "that the Murphy report conclusions are accepted - that there was a church cover-up and that it was a policy - and the second thing is that the Pope approves mandatory reporting to the civil authorities".

"Obviously other victims have other priorities, but they are the ones that I want to see," she said.

'Raised expectations'

Maeve Lewis, director of the support group One in Four, said they were deeply disappointed the church had still not accepted full responsibility for mishandling the abuse.

A spokeswoman for the archbishop agreed that it had been a difficult meeting, but said Dr Martin thought the victims had been too pessimistic in their assessment of the discussions.

She said the archbishop was still committed to a process of healing and recovery but felt that survivors' expectations had been too high for the papal meeting, Friday's meeting and perhaps even the Pope's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics which is expected within weeks.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific