VICTIMS of clerical sex abuse have expressed deep concerns about Archbishop Diarmuid Martin “appearing to have his wings clipped” and “seeming like a defeated man” since he returned from his two-day meeting with the other Irish bishops in Rome.
One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis and abuse survivors Marie Collins and Andrew Madden all said they found Diarmuid Martin – whom they have long regarded as the Catholic Church’s leading light in the fight to acknowledge clerical sex abuse – a changed person.
Ms Lewis said that Archbishop Martin could not assure them that the bishops’ resignations would be accepted. “I do not know if the archbishop has silenced himself or been silenced by the Pope. We are devastated and the situation for survivors now looks hopeless,” she said.
“I do not know how we can move forward when our source of dialogue with the Church is drying up.”
This was the first meeting of the victims, One in Four and Archbishop Martin since he returned from his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday.
Mr Madden said that the Archbishop of Dublin came across “as a very different man to the man I met last Saturday in advance of his trip to Rome”.
“I put it to him that he appeared to have had his wings clipped in Rome and that this might go some way to explaining why his fellow bishops seemed so happy on their return to Ireland; Diarmuid Martin preferred the view that it was more likely because they were delighted to have met Pope Benedict as most of them had never met him before,” he said.
Ms Collins told RTÉ Radio the archbishop seemed “a defeated man” who “may have been put into line with the other bishops” while in Rome. “I got a feeling that he has been fighting hard as one man, but now may have been put into line with the other bishops. His position is weakened and there is not much more he can do.
“He didn’t seem to have any great promise for the future,” she said.
The survivors of abuse wanted to hear personally from Archbishop Martin why the Pope, in his statement, had not referred to survivors’ statements which had been presented to him by the bishops.
Earlier this week, victims accused the Pope of ignoring them in his statement and expressed disgust that he had not mentioned bishops’ resignations and failed to acknowledge the systemic cover-up of abuse by the archdiocese.
“Diarmuid Martin was not of the view that our views had been ignored but could provide no evidence to the contrary,” Mr Madden said.
The group also said the archbishop could not explain why he thought it appropriate for Bishop Drennan to remain in office. “He did, however, agree with the Murphy report that just because the Catholic Church produced guidelines in 1996, that did not mean that all cases were dealt with properly after that time,” said Mr Madden.
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