Speaking on RTÉ radio, Archbishop Eamon Martin was responding to calls from listeners who asked why the Church had not put more pressure on the religious congregations to contribute to the redress scheme being designed by the Department of Justice. The four Catholic orders — the Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity, and the Good Shepherd Sisters — co-operated with the McAleese inquiry but then said the report had established State involvement in sending women to the laundries and therefore the issue of redress lay with the State.
Archbishop Martin also told Today with Sean O’Rourke said he believed Pope John Paul II would have been “shocked and horrified” by the extent of child abuse in the Church. He refused to suggest the canonisation of Pope John Paul II was taking place without due regard for his failure to act on child sex abuse allegations.
“I would like to think that those preparing this cause have established that he didn’t know about this,” he said.
Archbishop Martin became Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh earlier this year and will act as an assistant to Cardinal Sean Brady for at least another two years, before he succeeds him.
The 52-year-old said the Church’s role in covering up the worldwide scandal “ought to haunt it forever” as what had happened was a “terrible, terrible sin”. As a priest, he said he had never thought this was taking place.
“It should continue at the front of my mind as the people who were abused will never forget... If you are abused you can’t close the door on your abuse,” he said.
Archbishop Martin described the decision to put the reputation of the Church ahead of child protection as a “false ideal” that had seriously damaged “trust, the morale of priests, and caused enormous trauma to victims”.
In response to questions about the lack of female priests, he said lay people have a far greater influence in the Church now and that clergy were “not insulated from family life”.
Archbishop Martin described Pope Francis as “quite provocative” as he “really challenged every Catholic by asking them how are you helping the marginalised”.