By Sarah Mac Donald - 31 December, 2019
Media reports that the company set up to run the WMF2018 and Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland has gone into voluntary liquidation with a loss of €4.5m are inaccurate, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said.
Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, Archbishop Martin said the figure of €4.5m dated from 2018 and the true figure was now around €2.5m, as “Substantial amounts have come in since then.”
Dr Martin also stressed that contrary to the impression given that the company’s voluntary liquidation meant that it was going to the bankruptcy court he said, “It is just the closing down of the company which was necessary to carry out the event. It was established to carry out this function and that is now finished.”
Though there is still €2.5m outstanding, the Archbishop said most of the cost was covered and that the company had the support of the Irish bishops.
The total spend by the company amounted to €18.56m
Acknowledging that some people “have asked was the whole thing a disaster”, Archbishop Martin, who was President of the international church gathering, rejected that view.
“I don’t think so. What happened in the RDS over those three days … bishops from around the world said they have never seen an event of that quality.”
Of the actual papal visit, he noted, “Somebody said that the streets of Dublin were single-lined. I was on the popemobile going through the streets of Dublin on the Saturday. The Gardaí said there were more people there than on the biggest St Patrick’s Day.”
He also recalled seeing some of those who had been writing critically about the Pope’s visit lost in enthusiasm as the Pontiff passed.
However, he admitted, “There were serious problems with the event in the Phoenix Park.”
But other events, such as the gathering of 700 people who were newly married or engaged at the Pro Cathedral in Dublin with the Pope was “quite a striking thing to see”.
Archbishop Martin also highlighted the Pope’s visit to Brother Kevin Crowley and the Capuchin Day Centre for the Homeless and recalled how the people who avail of the services there talked on the anniversary of the papal visit about the Pope. “They all remembered it and it meant so much to them.”
Of the meeting between Pope Francis and the survivors of clerical abuse, the Archbishop recalled how it had been scheduled to take place in the chapel of the nunciature.
“There was extraordinary lack of sensitivity. Many of these people feel very uncomfortable in a churchy building. It was planned for half an hour and it ran on for an hour and a half – it was a stormy meeting. When the Pope arrived in Croke Park shortly afterwards he said, ‘what I have done is I’ve listened. I have rewritten the penitential rite.’”
“If you read what he said – unfortunately it was read in Spanish and the translation wasn’t very good – he said things that were very courageous. He talked about exploitation of children’s work; if I had said that I would have been criticised. He talked about how people had been told that it was a mortal sin to try and find their parents or their child – he said that was the fourth commandment: we shouldn’t forget those things.”
“And when, for example, the question of the mother and baby homes emerges, we have to look at that in the light of what the Pope said and not defend anything that is indefensible on either side.”
“The Pope spoke about an Irish society which was harsh and authoritarian – he said some very strong things.”
Asked if he personally liked Pope Francis, Archbishop Martin responded, “I do, yes. What I like about him is that he is a free man. He is trapped in an institution, but he remains free. He is a man who can change his mind, who admits to mistakes that he made. I am jealous of his energy!”