Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In Dublin, "Atonement" Now... "Shock" -- and Bono -- on the "Horizon"

If a priest spends nine days marching across his country to call for the resignation of a bishop over his mishandling of abuse cases, seeking the backing of its top prelate in the latter's cathedral at his journey's end, what's a primate to do?

For many of us, instinct, ecclesiology and experience would say he'd ignore the cleric, stand with the confrere -- and head for a bunker... but for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the answer was to embrace and praise Fr Michael Mernagh before the cameras as the survivor-advocate's nine-day "Atonement Walk" reached its finish yesterday in the Dublin Pro.

Put mildly, this isn't so much re-throwing John Magee under the bus as repeatedly running over the body.
Martin said [of Mernagh]: “He’s a man of principle. I respect anybody like that. I appreciate very much his gesture, but it’s his day and it’s a credit to him.”...

Fr Mernagh said he thanked God for the privilege of walking with so many victims and was blessed with fine weather and the support of many people.

“I realise one thing though I’m ending this part of my journey, our journey to give justice and to make atonement is only beginning.

“I have called, as I’ve called in the past, on the priests and bishops for a new heart of atonement. We must recognise that we are all at fault to allow this horrific history of clerical child abuse to go on. We need to come out of our denial, all of us, and ensure that this never happens again.”

He also reiterated his call to Bishop John Magee to resign his position. “For the sake of his own clergy and his people, he has admitted he has been at fault. It is logical for him to step aside on all accounts.”

Fr Mernagh was given a standing ovation inside the Pro-Cathedral.

This afternoon, the Irish government announced a full state inquiry into the history of abuse cases in the Cloyne diocese by the same panel currently wrapping up its investigation into the Dublin church.

With the Dublin Report slated for release around month's end, the archbishop has spent recent days preparing the ground for its impact, telling reporters that "people will be shocked" at the inquest's findings.

No stranger to the epochal, Martin -- host of the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2011 -- has likewise denied the widespread buzz that he's headed back to the Curia to take up the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, where he served for 15 years, ending up as the dicastery's #2 before being tapped as the Holy See's observer to the UN offices at Geneva in 2001.

The current Justice Czar, Cardinal Renato Martino, turned 75 in November 2007.

* * *
Of course, it was as secretary of Iustitia et Pax that the native Dubliner sealed his place in the Pantheon of legend by conducting the most memorable papal audience of recent decades -- the one he began with the words, "Holy Father, this is Mr Bono, he is a rock singer"...

...and for Karol Wojtyla and Paul Hewson both, love at first sight was had.

On a much brighter religious note from the Isle, the 15th U2 album -- No Line on the Horizon -- will roll out late next month.

In joyful anticipation, let the Great One sing a new song...

...and John 14: