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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Redeeming the Irish Catholic Church and Encountering the Face of an 8-year-old Child

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, is one of those men who may be just what the Roman Catholic Church needs at this moment. A clergyman with clear vision, a full heart, and a will to see the Church he loves survive.

The crisis of the sexual abuse of children by priests and the cover-up by the Church has led to diminishing attendance and a dearth of Irish clergymen. In a move that defied the actions of his predecessor and contrary to the wishes of the Vatican, Archbishop Martin provided “tens of thousands of pages of evidence against specific priests.”

In this powerful 60 Minutes report that aired on March 4, Bob Simon sat down with Archbishop Martin to discuss the shrinking enrollment and attendance, the devastation of the Church’s actions, and his will to see it prosper once again. And, it’s near the end, when Archbishop Martin talks about his encounters with victims and trying to put a face to the child who was betrayed that is most moving:

Bob Simon: When an abused child comes to you, archbishop, what do you say to him or to her?

Archbishop Martin: I usually meet them when they’re many, many years later. That’s when they come forward. What I try to do is imagine what they looked like when they were a child.

One man told him he had been assaulted when he was only 8 years old.

Martin: Basically he had been raped, you know, and he’d been raped in a sort of chapel, which makes it even more, more, heinous.

Simon: Can you reveal what you said to him?

Martin: I don’t say much. I listen.

The archbishop was so traumatized by this man’s story that when he visited a school the next day, he asked to see children the same age as that child raped in that chapel.

Martin: And the teacher said, “Where would you like— would you like to see some of the classes?” And I said that, “Okay, I’d begin— I’d like to see 8-year-olds.” And he must have thought I was crazy. But if you went in on the day of the opening of a new school, where you know, when the archbishop and the minister are coming, and the 8-year-olds are all dressed up and with their hair combed and so on. It’s devastating.

Simon: You couldn’t imagine it?

Martin: It’s just, you know, what do you say? You know, you just see— you see the— you know, you see that— you know, to— it was just somebody like that that was— I mean, a grown man is one thing. But when you actually see a child, you need to do that.

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With the demise of my own community’s two most revered leaders, Sandusky and Joe Paterno, I have decided to continue to respect my elders, but to politely tell them, ‘Out of my way.’ They have had their time to lead. Time’s up. I’m tired of waiting for them to live up to obligations.

Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work. For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting.

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Thomas L. Day, from his powerful piece in The Washington Post"Penn State, My Final Loss of Faith." 

A participant in the Second Mile foundation as a teenager, a Catholic, an Iraq war veteran, and a Penn State alum, Mr. Day calls his parents’ generation to task and lets his anger be known.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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