Op-Ed Columnist An Archbishop Burns While Rome Fiddles By MAUREEN DOWD June 4, 2011
THE archbishop of Dublin was beginning to sniffle.
He could not get through a story about “a really nasty man” — an Irish priest who sexually abused, physically tortured and emotionally threatened vulnerable boys — without pulling out his handkerchief and wiping his nose.
“He built a swimming pool in his own garden, to which only boys of a certain age, of a certain appearance were allowed into it,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told me recently. “There were eight other priests in that parish, and not one of them seemed to think there was something strange about it.”
Two years after learning the extent of the depraved and Dickensian treatment of children in the care of the Irish Catholic Church — a fifth circle of hell hidden for decades by church and police officials — the Irish are still angry and appalled.
The only church leader who escapes their disgust is the no-nonsense, multilingual Martin. He was sent home to Dublin in 2003 after 27 years in the Vatican bureaucracy and diplomatic corps and found the Irish church in crisis, reeling from a cover-up that spanned the tenures of four past Dublin archbishops....
The frustrated Martin has criticized the Vatican’s glacial pace on reform and chided the church: “Denial will not generate confidence.”
He has mourned the lack of faith among young people in Ireland, where fewer than one in five Catholics go to Mass in Dublin on Sunday. (A victims’ support group is called One in Four, asserting that’s how many Irish have been affected by the sexual abuse scandal.)
In return for doing the right thing, he has been ostracized by fellow bishops in Ireland and snubbed by the Holy See.
Showing again that it prefers denial to remorse, the Vatican undermined Martin’s call for accountability. In 2009, after the Irish government’s 700-page Murphy report on sexual abuse came out, Pope Benedict XVI refused to accept the resignations of two Irish bishops who presided over dioceses where abuse cases were mishandled.
The following year, when Martin expected to be named cardinal, the pope passed him over.