In light of Austen Ivereigh's strong post below on the Irish bishops, and his favorable mention of Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin (whose suggestion that the Irish bishops resign did not carry the day), here is a long piece by David Gibson on Martin's career and example in the midst of a church in crisis:
From the start Martin rejected the common approach of denying problems, or denouncing modern Catholics for bad faith or bad behavior, and he accepted the church's responsibility in creating the current difficulties. "It's no longer a question that you just learn your Catechism or your religious education in school and that will take you clearly through life," he said. "We have to have a constant dialogue and deepening of the realization of what it means to be a believer in a world where things change so much for the future." In light of Ireland's tradition of almost reflexive Catholic practice, that was a startling break from the past.
Rather than berating young people for living together, he lobbied the government to enact policies to support working couples, since so many more women were working outside the home than ever before. He made an outreach to Ireland's new immigrants a priority, and insisted children who were not Catholic should not have to receive religious instruction in Catholic schools. "For example, I would have no difficulty with the wearing of the Muslim headscarf in a Catholic school -- as I have no difficulty with nuns wearing a veil or priests wearing a religious habit," he has said.
In a message last year at Holy Week, he acknowledged that "there is a dramatic and growing rift between the Church and our younger generations and the blame does not lie principally with young people. Our young people are generous and idealistic but such generosity and idealism does not seem to find a home in the Church," which he said for many "remains an alien place."
Equally explosive have been allegations of sexual abuse in Jesuit high schools in Germany, which we mentioned in our Signs of the Times this week. The German bishops have just issued an apology, according to Deutsche Welle. This follows an earlier statement by the German Jesuit Provincial, Stefan Dartmann, SJ. Fr. Dartmann's complete statement on the website of the German Province is here.