Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and recently named Apostolic Visitor for the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, said this week that the Irish Church should seek the renewal and purification called for by, and detailed in, Pope Benedict’s letter to Irish Catholics.
Speaking at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland for the Closing of the Year for Priests, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor said a sort of “dark night” has fallen over the Church due to the clergy sex abuse scandal. He stated that this is a “time of learning, a time of purifying and of trusting.”
“In the dark night, all we have is our faith that God has not abandoned us, is working with us. Of course, we feel the rawness not only of our sin but also our poverty,” the cardinal said. This poverty “is also a gift because it strips away all the other things we have come to rely upon. It brings us back to source of our life, our identity and our call.”
After commenting on some of the measures put in place in England and Wales to prevent sexual abuse by members of the clergy, the cardinal said, “Today I wanted to reflect on how these terrible crimes have affected the Church. It does not matter that the great majority of priests and bishops are good servants and pastors of their people. When the scandal of abuse runs so deep, it casts its shadow over everything.”
The cardinal said there is “no magic formula” for confronting the issue. However, he did note that, in his letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict encouraged “a path of repentance and renewal that opens the door to God’s forgiveness and true change.”
The Pope’s letter also “set another process in motion,” he said. “It goes deep into the great spiritual patrimony of the Irish Church.”
“It is about a genuine and deep repentance which requires not only a commitment to truth and understanding, especially understanding the roots and consequences of what has happened, but a commitment also to love.”