When the Murphy Commission, set up by the government of Ireland to investigate the thousands upon thousands of sexual abuse claims of children by Irish priests, requested to see the church documents recording the reports by the children, the Vatican clammed up. No one would spill the beans. It took one incredibly brave man, the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diamuld Martin, to change that. He opened up the hidden records and gave over 65,000 documents to the Commission.
60 minutes has interviewed this gentle man who quietly shared his thoughts on the subject. He said that it wasn’t just about sexual abuse, but that it was abuse of power, and that when a priest did that to a child, he was telling the child that they had no value. When asked what he says to someone who comes to him with a story of childhood sexual abuse, he said “I don’t say much. I listen.”
Archbishop Martin said that when one sexual abuse survivor came to him and told his story, the man told Martin that he was only eight years old when he was raped by his priest. The next day Martin went to the local elementary school and asked to see a class of eight year olds. At this point in the interview, Martin crumpled, and wept.
In response to the many stories he has heard firsthand, Archbishop Martin held a Service of Atonement specifically for those who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests in Dublin. At that service, Martin washed the feet of every victim.
Exposing the ugly truth, no matter how painful, is a good beginning. There are too many stories of abuse in the history of the Shamrock Isles, much of it to children at the hands of the ones they and their families trusted. Now that the evil done in darkness is being exposed and the accusers are able, at last, to confront their offenders and see justice done, healing has begun. At least there is one good priest in Ireland.