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Diocese of Antsiranana
(Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean)
LAMBETH 2008 MADAGASCAR AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ROWAN WILLIAMS
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ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ROWAN WILLIAMS leader of the world's Anglicans has expressed "deep sorrow and regret" for saying the Catholic Church in Ireland was "losing all credibility" over the paedophile priests scandal.

 
ANTSIRANANA 100408-1
April 8, 2010

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams apologised to Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin and one of Ireland's most senior Catholics for "difficulties which may have been created" by the remarks.

Archbishop Martin had earlier said he was "stunned" by the "unequivocal and unqualified" comments, which were made in a BBC radio interview to be broadcast on Monday.

He said Archbishop Williams had a responsibility to choose his words more carefully.

"There is a new, growing, credible Irish church emerging - and I have a responsibility to address the questions of the past in the church," he said.

"I do not defend what happened in the past, but I also have a responsibility to try and work with others to shape the future of the church in Ireland, and his statement hasn't really helped us or encouraged us."

Archbishop Williams telephoned Archbishop Martin to say that "nothing could have been farther from his intention than to offend or criticise the Irish Church," according to a statement released by the Archbishop of Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed he had spoken to Archbishop Martin and said he "had no intention of criticising or attacking" the Catholic Church.

"The Church in Ireland continues to work tirelessly to deal with the scandal of abuse," she said.

Relations between the two churches have been strained since last October when Pope Benedict XVI offered disgruntled Anglicans an easier route to conversion to Catholicism.

Archbishop Williams, the spiritual leader of more than 70 million Anglicans worldwide, said in the interview that the Irish Catholic Church's disarray over the child sex abuse scandal was a "colossal trauma".

"I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now," he said.

"And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility - that's not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."

Archbishop Martin says the timing of the comments on Easter weekend has been particularly unhelpful.

"In all my years as Archbishop of Dublin in difficult times I have rarely felt personally so discouraged," he said.

Ireland, a strongly Catholic country, has been shaken by two major investigations in the last year detailing child sex abuse by priests stretching back decades and Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.