THE ARCHBISHOP OF Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said that many priests feel hurt about a cartoon that appeared in the Irish Times yesterday.
The cartoon by Martyn Turner shows three priests standing next to each other.
The priest in the centre is holding a paper that has “Children’s First Bill” written on it as well “mandatory reporting”.
Earlier this week, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said the Children First Bill will make it mandatory for certain professions and post-holders to report incidents of harm and the risk of harm to the Child and Family Agency.
Speaking on Holy Thursday in the Pro Cathedral in Dublin today, Martin said:
I know that many priests and people feel hurt by a cartoon in yesterday’s Irish Times.
I am a strong believer in freedom of speech and of the vital role of satire in social criticism, but I object to anything that would unjustly tarnish all good priests with the unpardonable actions of some.
We have great priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Auxiliary Bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay men and women from the parishes from Wicklow, Kildare, Wexford, Carlow, Laois, as well as Dublin City and county were present in mass today.
Martin went on to say that there have been many changes in the Church and in society since each of them were ordained.
“For those of my age and older the social image and position of the priest has changed enormously. Many of the functions which a priest used to exercise in the Church have now been rightly assumed by lay men and women. Many of the general social functions which a priest used to exercise in society are assumed now outside a specific church framework. Many of the traditional social supports for the priest have been weakened,” he said.
He paid special tribute to older priests who he said had experienced “rapid and deep social change” but who continue to “remain fresh” in their commitment and understanding of the ministry.
Speaking about priests that have suffered from anxiety, difficulty or failure, Martin said:
All of us are sinners; all of us have our weaknesses; all of us have failed; none of us lives in a world where the black and white of good and evil, of success and failure are clearly and distantly separated.All of us live in the greyness of our own interior lives and in the greyness of the challenges of the world in which we are called to witness as best as we can and to seek perfection.
He added that the office for priests is strengthening, adding, “We have much to be proud of as we face ever growing challenges”.
Martin concluded by saying the moment priests lose the hopes and aspirations which first drew priests towards priestly ministry, is the day they become trapped in their own frustration.
“We have to rediscover those hopes and aspirations and the ideals if we have lost them,” said Martin.