The Irish Times 'Papal Talks' Story Unfounded

By Garry O'Sullivan
Irish Catholic
September 2, 2010

It seemed like an amazing scoop for The Irish Times newspaper last week when it was able to reveal that not only was Dublin's Archbishop Martin still in favour with the Pope but that he had recently had 'exhaustive discussions' with the Pope who backed him fully on his strategy in Dublin. The report was made from Rimini in Italy where Archbishop Martin was giving a speech to a gathering of Communion and Liberation members.

Those back in Ireland who speculated that Archbishop Martin might have been embarrassed by the Vatican decision not to accept the resignations of his two auxiliary bishops were told by The Irish Times sources that they were out of touch with what was really going on in Italy and the Vatican.

The problem with this is that Archbishop Martin did not meet the Pope recently when he was in Italy. Nor did he have a discussion with him. In fact, the Pope has not met Archbishop Martin or Cardinal Brady since he met all the Irish bishops last February nor has the Pope had any discussions with the Archbishop since then. In response to questions from this paper, a spokeswoman for the Archbishop of Dublin confirmed this saying that "The archbishop hasn't had any discussions with the Pope since the bishop's meeting last February."

This contradicts the assertion that Archbishop Martin had "exhaustive discussions on the sex abuse crisis with Pope Benedict" as reported by The Irish Times from Italy on Wednesday, August 25.

The Irish Times maintained that Vatican insiders said the "non-resignations" of two Dublin auxiliary bishops was not a setback for Archbishop Martin. It stated that "Sources in the Holy See" confirmed the archbishop had "exhaustive discussions" with Pope Benedict recently and the Pope was fully supportive of the manner in which Archbishop Martin dealt with the child abuse crisis in the Irish Church.

In his speech at Rimini, from a translation taken from the Dublin diocese, Archbishop Martin said: "We do have many people ready to comment on Church events, not infrequently in a sensationalist manner with little knowledge of the nature of the Church. I do not deny the right to criticise the conduct of the Church and of the clergy, and I am not speaking here only of people critical of the Church."

"There is a tendency on the part of Catholic commentators to sensationalism," he said.

The Irish Times article, which ironically reported Dr Martin's comments, read: "Whilst many in Ireland chose to see the "non-resignation" of Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field last week as a setback for Dr Martin, Vatican insiders have discounted that line of media speculation.

"Sources in the Holy See have confirmed that Archbishop Martin has recently had exhaustive discussions on the sex abuse crisis with Pope Benedict, who remains in complete agreement with the manner in which Dr Martin has confronted the Irish Church's tortured and long-running trauma.

"While there has been understandable concern among the Irish faithful that the resignations of the two auxiliaries mentioned in the Murphy Report were in effect rejected by Pope Benedict, Church observers this week have emphasised that this "reinstatement" in no way represents a vote of no confidence in Archbishop Martin."

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