Saturday June 25 2011
By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
THE Vatican last night denied it had snubbed Diarmuid Martin by overlooking the Archbishop of Dublin as a speaker at its first major conference of bishops and heads of religious orders on clerical child abuse.
The conference, which is to be held in Rome next February, will be attended by bishops and religious superiors and is billed as changing the culture of secrecy in which the Catholic church has dealt with complaints of priests who sexually abuse minors.
The exclusion of Dr Martin, the foremost prelate worldwide advocating the church to be accountable to abuse victims, was noted in yesterday’s edition of ‘The Tablet’, the international Catholic weekly.
“One leading church figure not among the presenters is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin,” wrote its Rome correspondent, Robert Mickens.
Earlier this month, Dr Martin voiced his “increasing impatience” that the Vatican had not published its promised blueprint for the reform of the scandal-rocked Catholic church in Ireland, which was due out by the end of May.
This related to the recommendations for renewal by a special investigation of the Irish church ordered by Pope Benedict from a team of foreign churchmen led by former Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
It has since emerged that the Vatican will not make public the findings of the investigators, known as ‘Apostolic Visitors’, until early next year.
Vatican spokesman Fr Frederico Lombardi insisted that Dr Martin had not been left off the roster of speakers intentionally.
“The organisers wanted speakers from all continents,” said Fr Lombardi, adding that one aim of the conference was to help produce a “global approach” for how the church around the world dealt with the issue of clerical sexual abuse.
The three-day event is being organised by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University with the full support of the Pope.
It is to be opened on February 6 by Cardinal William Levada, head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
A spokesperson for the Dublin archdiocese told the Irish Independent yesterday that Dr Martin was away preparing his address for this weekend’s National Eucharistic Congress in Knock, Co Mayo.
– John Cooney Religion Correspondent