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November 26, 2004

Archbishop apologises over exclusion of disabled

From: Ireland Online - Dublin,Ireland - Nov 26, 2004

A top Dublin churchman has said sorry for excluding people with disabilities from church activities, it emerged tonight.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin frankly admitted that issues to do with access and participation in the Church "never even crossed the minds" of authorities.

Speaking at St Vincent's Centre for Deaf People in Dublin, he said: "I want to be the first to admit that I have not fully brought my mindset around to thinking fully in terms of making church facilities and ministries accessible for people with disabilities.

"The disadvantage suffered by persons with disabilities was not just not attended to.

"I think tat we all have an obligation to apologise for our lack of sensitivity, for our inability to listen."

Dr Martin announced that an audit of every parish in the Dublin Diocese will now be carried out to improve facilities for the disabled.

The Catholic Church's social aid agency, Crosscare will ensure that ramps are provided for wheelchairs at church buildings and that water fonts are accessible.

The archbishop said of the innovative Cedar Programme: "I will willingly open my doors and the doors of every diocesan office and agency to the audit facility."

He called for co-operation from his priests and said he would report back on progress made in a year's time.

© Thomas Crosbie Media, 2004.