Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: ‘The church is imprisoned in its past’

Irish Times

April 22, 2019

By Patsy McGarry

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, turned 74 on April 8th. He has a year to go before submitting his letter of resignation to Rome, as required of all Catholic bishops when they reach 75.

The two auxiliary bishops in Dublin must submit their resignations to Rome even sooner – Bishop Ray Field turns 75 next month with Bishop Eamonn Walsh following in September.

Archbishop Martin, the most influential Catholic prelate in Ireland, is 15 years in his role this month, having succeeded Cardinal Desmond Connell. He is 20 years a bishop and next month marks a half century since his ordination.

Does he think he will be allowed to stand down?

“You never know that,” he says. “At the moment there’s quite a delay on [the appointment of] bishops in Ireland. One thing I would not want is that there would be a vacuum or that there would be a prolonged period of speculation.”

He says the big change will not be him and his auxiliary colleagues moving on but rather the “realities of the diocese”, which are “changing enormously”.

“Others might say that may be a little time in which people can stand back and reflect and ask the questions: Where should we be going? What sort of bishop do we need? But I think there are too many serious problems that have to be addressed from the pastoral, personnel, financial situation – you can’t allow that to drag on.”

He acknowledges Cardinal Connell was persuaded to stay on for three more years after turning 75. “I think it wasn’t a good thing,” he adds.

New accommodation
The archbishop may stay in Dublin post-retirement, in which case he would need to look for new accommodation in the city. “My mother always said that if she could get an apartment in Nelson’s Pillar, that would be her choice,” he smiles.

As to whether his period as archbishop had been overshadowed by the abuse issue – as it was for Cardinal Connell who once said the abuse issue had devastated his ministry – Archbishop Martin responds: “Cardinal Connell always focused on himself an awful lot. I don’t do it in that same sense.

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