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Archbishop speaks out over child sex abuse

ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Diarmuid Martin slammed Irish Catholic orders yesterday for concealing their culpability in decades of child abuse and said they needed to come up with much more money to compensate victims.

The comments from Martin were the harshest yet by a Roman Catholic leader following last week's report detailing widespread abuse in church-run industrial schools from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Martin said the nuns and Catholic brothers who ran the workhouses must drop their refusal to renegotiate an intensely criticized 2002 agreement with the Irish government over compensation for victims.

The orders offered to pay only 128 million euros (US$175 million) to the government to be protected from victims' civil lawsuits, while taxpayers are picking up a much larger bill to compensate over 14,000 victims of physical, sexual and mental abuse.

The archbishop - who leads an archdiocese containing more than 1 million of Ireland's 4 million Catholics - said in an Irish Times column that the church in Ireland has lost credibility because of its weak response to revelations of child abuse.

Martin said it was incomprehensible why other church leaders remained "in denial" following a nine-year investigation by a child abuse commission, which published its devastating 2,600-page report last Wednesday.

He said the report documented "church institutions where children were placed in the care of people with practically no morals." The last of those workhouses for Ireland's poorest children closed more than a decade ago.

The archbishop also accused the orders of reneging even on the amount promised to the government, which is funding more than 1.1 billion euros in payouts to victims. Martin said the church's failure to complete transfers of cash, property and land worth 128 million euros "is stunning."


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