Bishop Dónal Murray resigned this morning without accepting any responsibility for the wrongdoings exposed by the Murphy report. In line with a carefully-thought-out tactic, Murray’s speech concentrated on the victims of clerical sexual abuse.
I know full well that my resignation cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day. I humbly apologise once again to all who were abused as little children. To all survivors of abuse I repeat that my primary concern is to assist in every way that I can, on their journey towards finding closure and serenity.
… I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers.
… We are meant to be bearers of that hope to one another and especially to people whose trust was betrayed when they were just little children and who endured the terror, helplessness and suffering inflicted by a frightening and dominant adult. They should always have a special place in our prayers.
Very good, you might be thinking. At last he’s facing up to reality.
I’m afraid not.
The Murphy report is not about clerical sexual abuse. It’s about the way the bishops handled complaints of these crimes. It’s about the fact that they ignored and dismissed victims. It’s about putting protection of the church ahead of the victims’ welfare. It’s about concealing crimes. It’s about a cover-up.
Remember the mandate of the Commission as quoted in their report:
The Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation was established to report on the handling by Church and State authorities of a representative sample of allegations and suspicions of child sexual abuse against clerics operating under the aegis of the Archdiocese of Dublin over the period 1975 to 2004.
There’s one major element missing from Donal Murray’s statement: any acknowledgement that he personally bears responsibility for anything at all.
This is the statement of a man who simply doesn’t get it. He genuinely cannot see that the public pressure is on him because of his inexcusable failures.
Yesterday, Thomas Naughton, a priest of the Dublin diocese, was jailed for abusing children, and we now know that if Murray had acted on complaints against this individual, many children would have escaped the sexual abuse he inflicted on them.
It’s for these failures and this lack of moral compass that Murray has been vilified, and in his statement, we can see a clear strategy, as devised and imposed by the Vatican’s man, Diarmuid Martin. Keep the spotlight on the victims. Keep apologising for the abuse. Keep attention away from the findings of a cover-up in the Murphy report.
Diarmuid Martin is a clever man, and I commend him for it. A very clever man.
What else would you expect from the brother of the Irish Times Moscow correspondent? Two smart boys, Diarmuid and Séamus, and two likeable fellows, what’s more.
I find Diarmuid Martin engaging. I like his humility. I like his normality. I doubt very much if Diarmuid Martin would expect the faithful to bend the knee to him or treat him as any sort of prince, much less a prince of the church. It isn’t his style.
I would share a pint with Diarmuid Martin any time he likes, in the confident expectation of entertaining company and a good night of laughter and storytelling.
Not only that, but I imagine Diarmuid Martin is as horrified and repulsed by the activities of Catholic clergy as I am and as you are. I imagine he wants, in his private moments, to strangle the life out of the abusers who tortured our children.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is a decent man, a human being with nieces and nephews, and perhaps even children of his own. Who knows? It isn’t a crime. To that extent, I find myself on the same side as him.
He understands my rage at these perverts and I understand his.
However, there’s another side to Diarmuid Martin You see, before he was parachuted into the Dublin diocese, Diarmuid Martin was a trusted member of the Vatican inner circle, a diplomat and a canny operator. It was not by accident that the Vatican decided to place him in Dublin.
Diarmuid Martin was placed in his current position because Rome knew there was a public-relations disaster in the making and Martin was the right man to limit the damage. The Catholic church in Ireland was exposed as little more than a paedophile ring. Cardinal Desmond Connell and his predecessors had failed miserably to comprehend that raping a child is a crime, and had colluded in protecting the rapists. Now there was nothing for it but to put in a man with a safe pair of hands and so they sent in one of their shrewdest operators.
Diarmuid Martin is the Harvey Keitel to the church’s Pulp Fiction. He’s there to hose down the goons and clean up the crime scene. He’s there to ensure that the Catholic church in Ireland retains as much of its secular power as possible, and if that means straight talking and kicking a few made men out of a speeding car well and good. What has to be done will be done to protect the Family.
This is why Murray made his begrudging, self-pitying speech of resignation through gritted teeth. Martin was standing behind him with a knife at his ribs, and you can expect another few goons to quit over coming days.
It isn’t about the victims. It’s about holding on to power.
All Bock posts on the Murphy Report