PRESSURE is mounting on three serving bishops named in the Murphy report to step down from office after Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin James Moriarty announced he had offered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI.
Dr Moriarty, 73, who served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin from 1991 to 2002, confirmed he had decided to resign because he was “part of the governance of the archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented”.
Victim support group, One In Four, said last night that every senior bishop named in the Murphy Report should quit, while abuse survivor Andrew Madden lamented the fact that neither Bishop Moriarty nor Bishop Murray of Limerick had accepted any responsibility for the cover-up of abuse by priests.
However, Irish Catholic editor Garry O’Sullivan said that, by resigning, Bishop Moriarty had “honoured the truth of the past” and was to be commended for his decision.
In a statement released through the Catholic Communications Office, Dr Moriarty said he accepted with the benefit of hindsight that he should have challenged the prevailing culture within the archdiocese on the handling of complaints of child sexual abuse against priests. He acknowledged the Murphy report was fundamentally about how the leadership of the archdiocese had failed over many decades to respond properly to criminal acts against children.
Dr Moriarty described the system and management of communications within the archdiocese in the past as “seriously flawed”.
Despite his pleas of innocence, the report implied criticism of Dr Moriarty over his handling of an allegation made in 1993 about a paedophile priest, Fr Edmondus, one of whose victims was Marie Collins.
Dr Moriarty said he hoped his resignation “honours the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned”. While he accepted that no action on his part would take away the suffering of victims, he repeated his apology to all abuse survivors and their families.
Although Dr Moriarty’s resignation has still to be accepted by Pope Benedict, it is widely believed that the matter is a formality, given the Vatican’s concern about the widespread criticism of the Church authorities in Dublin over several decades.
Dr Moriarty is the second serving bishop to resign as a result of the Murphy report. Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray resigned last week amid criticism at his handling of allegations against several clerics. His failure to investigate one serial abuser, Fr Thomas Naughton, was described in the report as “inexcusable”.
Dr Moriarty’s resignation will switch the focus to three other serving bishops named in the report: Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan; and two Auxiliary Bishops of Dublin Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh.
All three men have to date resisted calls for their resignation by abuse victims, claiming they were not directly criticised by the Murphy Commission. However, Marie Collins yesterday insisted they must bear collective responsibility as senior bishops for the cover-up by the archdiocese of clerical sexual abuse.
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