Statement from the Association of Catholic Priests in response to Archbishop Martin’s interview on Morning Ireland: Nov. 28th
The Association of Catholic Priests welcomes the comments of the Archbishop of Dublin on Radio this morning.
We are glad that at last a bishop has made a statement on the Kevin Reynolds situation. And we agree with his conclusions that questions need to be addressed in the wake of this case,
and that it is important, in the question of media bias, that not all media are
tarred with the same brush in the way that priests have been.
But we do believe that this particular case did show what seems to us very much like bias in at least two instances:
- The fact that RTE were not willing to wait until Fr. Reynolds had a chance to prove his innocence suggests to us that they were confident that anything could safely be said about a priest in the present climate without fear of repercussions; that the Church authorities would not back him, and that people generally would believe the story.
- That they door-stepped Fr. Reynolds in both a time and place that is sacred to the Catholic faith. There is, we believe, no doubt that RTE, or indeed any journalist, would not do the same to an Iman in the precincts of his mosque, or to a Jewish rabbi at his synagogue.
Questions need to be asked, also, about whether some bishops, including Dr. Martin himself, have been complicit in the denigration of priests. We are well aware that he has not experienced any harassment by media, since they generally tended to be happy with what he was saying. But the
experience of ordinary priests and religious who have spoken on programmes has
sometimes been very different. The collateral damage done to priests and religious in general, and to innocent priests in particular, has been significant.
It is one thing to lament the present negative and unjust attitude towards priests in general (as the Amarach/Iona survey has shown), but it is another to preside over, as some bishops have done, a situation where there is a serious lack of care for priests, innocent and guilty, and to
effectively demonise them in Church and society. Archbishop Martin and other bishops, though
thankfully not all, need to demonstrate by their actions rather than their
words that priests have rights like every other citizen. While we rightly value
the systems and structures put in place to safeguard children, bishops need to
be aware that their duty of care extends beyond simply implementing guidelines,
and showing no concern for the consequences not just to the priests involved,
but also to their extended families and parish communities.
Brendan Hoban; 086 6065055
Sean McDonagh 0872367612
Tony Flannery 087 6814699
P.J. Madden 087 2208882