The Archbishop of Dublin last night issued an unprecedented public rebuke to the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for praising “the courage” of pervert priests in “confronting” their actions.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin described as “unhelpful” comments made by the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, which have been angrily condemned by abuse victims both here and in England.
Dr Martin distanced himself completely from Archbishop Nichols’ clumsy intervention.
“His comments, as reported, have not been helpful,” Archbishop Martin said. “My thoughts and anger are entirely on the side of victims,” he added.
Archbishop Nichols made his controversial defence of the Irish clergy on BBC Radio Five Live in response to the findings of the Ryan commission report, which officially recorded clerical sexual abuse was “endemic” in institutions run by religious orders.
In an interview broadcast ahead of his installation yesterday as Archbishop of Westminster, Dr Nichols said: “It is a tough road to take, to face up to our own weaknesses. That is certainly true of anyone who’s deceived themselves that all they’ve been doing is taking comfort from children.”
Archbishop’s Nichols’ comments were also slammed by support group Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA).
“Rubbish is too kind a word for what the archbishop has said. It is the verbiage of unreason, and it leaves me cold,” said SOCA spokesman Patrick Walsh.
The strong rebuke of Archbishop Nichols’ comments came as a row continued to rage over the ‘sweetheart’ deal between the Irish government and 18 religious orders, which allows the Catholic Church to escape 90% of the cost of compensating abuse victims.
The Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI) insisted the orders had no plans to increase the compensation paid above the €128m agreed with then Education Minister Michael Woods.
Mr Woods claimed the agreement, which will see taxpayers stung for over €1bn, was “as good a deal as the government could get at that time”.