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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said the sexual abuse crisis in the Church was not a chapter of past history because abuse “can and does still take place”.
He was addressing the “Anglophone Conference” in Rome, which brings together child safeguarding experts and representatives from the English-speaking Church, on Monday, same day that Pope Francis met abuse victims for three hours in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
In his speech the archbishop referred to the review findings of the National Board for Safeguarding in the Irish Church, which showed that there are still dioceses or religious congregations that opt out of national norms.
He said the Conference was a pioneer in looking for coherent international norms on safeguarding but had at times faced “negative reactions even within the Holy See”. But he said the Church had moved "beyond any climate of suspicion to one of cooperation".
The Church, he stated, “must show unflinchingly a preferential option for those who have been victims of abuse within its fold” and must be a place where survivors, with all their anger, can feel they will encounter healing. “We are not that kind of Church yet: and by far,” the archbishop said.
“The sexual abuse of children on the scale in which it happened should never have occurred in the Catholic Church because Jesus himself tells us that children are a sign of the kingdom of God. This means that our understanding of faith and of the kingdom is somehow measured in the manner in which we protect and respect and cherish children or in which we fail children.
“What has happened has wounded the entire Church and that now the entire Church is called to put right what has happened … Healing is not just a question for the counsellors; it is a theological and ecclesiological necessity,” the archbishop said.
Read the full address here.
Above: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin talks with Catholic News Service at Georgetown University in Washington before giving a lecture on faith and service on 16 May 2011. Photo: CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec