[Opinion] Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was a competent and engaging leader

By Fr. Michael Commane
Bray People via Independent
January 16, 2021

Fr Michael Commane: "I can well imagine it's a lonely ministry being a bishop. Dealing with priests can't be the easiest of jobs!"

Diarmuid Martin is about to hand over his episcopal baton to his successor Dermot Farrell, though of course, he remains an archbishop.

Readers of this column, who attend Mass, will be aware that in the Eucharistic Prayer the priest prays for the pope and the bishop of the diocese. It is a long and wholesome tradition that the assembled people pray for their bishop and the pope.

It's a lovely reminder of the unity of the community and it is also a prayer of hope that in spite of all our differences we are in unity with our bishop and pope. No, not that we are nodding the head in subservient obedience, rather that the unity of people, with their bishop and pope help us on our pilgrimage or journey, that ultimately leads us to God.

So for example at Mass in the Catholic Diocese of Ferns people pray for their bishop Denis, in Kerry they pray for Raymond and in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin people pray for their archbishop Diarmuid.

A new man, Dermot Farrell has been appointed to Dublin. So once he's installed as archbishop we'll be moving from Diarmuid to Dermot.

In his 16 years as archbishop in Dublin Diarmuid Martin made it a priority of his ministry to clean up the long sad legacy of clerical child sex abuse in the diocese. It was by no means an easy job. He was a most competent church leader, who also performed well on radio and television and had no problem answering difficult questions, honestly.

Over the last 10 years or so I have met Diarmuid Martin a number of times. On every occasion I found the man interesting and engaging. Maybe because both of us have an interest in things German made it easier for us to converse.

On one visit when I thought I might get 15 minutes of his time, we spent an hour chatting. And on another occasion, when I called on him for advice I found him most helpful and indeed decisive.

At least from my perspective I got the impression that he had an inspiring and forward-looking understanding of the role of the church in the world in which we live.

I can well imagine it's a lonely ministry being a bishop. Dealing with priests can't be the easiest of jobs!

That reminds me of hearing a story about a well-known priest in Dublin, who having fallen out with Diarmuid Martin, never again mentioned his name at Mass.

And no doubt Diarmuid Martin was not everyone's favourite person, certainly not the priest who stopped mentioning his name at Mass. But from my own personal experience I found him a fine man and he was certainly always polite and kind to me. I never had any inhibition telling him exactly what I thought and I felt he appreciated that.

I wish him every joy and happiness on his new journey. Diarmuid, thank you for your listening ear and kindness.

And thank you too for your leadership as archbishop during often difficult times.


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