At a conference in Milwaukee this week, Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, provided a powerful message to those in attendance when he said, “Only the truth sets us free.” And, that the church must be “willing to tell the truth and take ownership of the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant.”
I only know Archbishop Martin from media reports and am not familiar with his own track record of handling clergy abuse cases in Dublin, but I do know that his message is potent and echoes what survivors of clergy abuse have consistently been saying to Catholic Bishops across the United States.
It is perhaps ironic that an Archbishop would come all the way from Dublin to provide such timely advice in the heart of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee where for years Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Bishop Richard Sklba and Archbishops Timothy Dolan and Jerome Listecki have turned a deaf ear to demands of survivors that they come clean and be “willing to tell the truth” and even more importantly, be willing to “take ownership of the truth” about priests that sexually abused children.
Specifically, survivors of clergy abuse have persistently asked that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee disclose the secret files for each priest that had sexually abused children and release of the names of all offenders, including the religious orders priests. At a time when tensions are escalating because of the Archdiocese recent bankruptcy filing, a full and honest disclosure would go a long ways toward an acceptance of responsibility—and as Archbishop Martin said, “Ownership of the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant.”
The conference, called “Harm, Hope, and Healing: International Dialogue on the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal,” was sponsored by the Marquette University Law School. Click here for the media report about the conference.
A full reprint of Archbishop Martin’s lecture notes is available here.