Archbishop aims to move on from row

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 Monday, 5 April 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be hoping to move on from the row over the Catholic sex abuse scandal as a controversial interview in which he suggests the Church in Ireland has “lost all credibility” is finally broadcast.

Dr Rowan Williams faced criticism from Catholic leaders on Saturday after the BBC previewed the interview recorded for BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week.

The leader of the Anglican Communion then phoned Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who said he was stunned by the remarks, to say he “had no intention of criticising or attacking” the Catholic Church.

Dr Williams said: “I didn’t honestly think I was saying anything that had not been said by others about the Irish Church, including leaders of the Irish Church. I wasn’t intending to criticise or condemn but to point out a really tragic situation and a huge challenge that faces the Church in Ireland at the moment which many of them are rising to with great courage.”

He also said it was “rather odd” the Radio 4 interview was being commented upon before it had even been broadcast.

During the Start the Week interview the Archbishop says: “I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it’s quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now. And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility – that’s not just a problem for the church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland.”

Catholic archbishops marked Easter Sunday with a series of apologies as they admitted the Church’s “guilt” and “shame” over the sex abuse scandal.

In Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church, admitted his own responsibility for taking part in the culture of cover-up. He said: “I realise that, however unintentionally, however unknowingly, I too allowed myself to be influenced by that culture in our Church, and our society.”

At Dublin’s Pro Cathedral, a small group of angry protesters briefly interrupted the service by placing children’s shoes at the altar to represent the child victims.

At the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI made no mention of the accusations which have rocked the Church. And in front of the faithful in St Peter’s Square, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, defended the Pontiff against the “petty gossip of the moment”.

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