Dublin archbishop who helped Ireland heal from abuse retires

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who worked to rebuild the Roman Catholic Church’s credibility in Ireland after it was shattered by decades of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up.

Martin turned 75 earlier this year, the mandatory retirement age for bishops. Francis named Bishop Dermot Farrell, 66, the head of the Ossory diocese in eastern Ireland, as Martin’s replacement.

Deeply Catholic Ireland has had one of the world’s worst records of clergy sex abuse, crimes that were revealed to its 4.8 million people over the past decade by a series of government-mandated inquiries. The reviews concluded that thousands of children were raped and molested by priests or physically abused in church-run schools while bishops worked to protect the predators and the Irish church’s reputation.

Martin, who was named archbishop of Dublin in 2004, worked to change that culture and rebuild the church, forcefully speaking out on behalf of victims.

“In this he led by example, confronting the past, engaging in regular outreach to survivors and their families, and modelling best practice in transparency and accountability – thereby setting the template for other Church leaders both here, and across the world,” Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said.

Farrell, the new Dublin archbishop, has won plaudits for his pastoral and administrative efforts since being named by Francis to lead the Ossory diocese in 2018. In an opinion piece Tuesday in the independent Irish Catholic weekly, religious affairs commentator Michael Kelly wrote that Farrell was the right man to carry on from Martin.

“He is a man of huge energy, unafraid of embracing reform and new ways of doing things,” Kelly wrote.

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