THE Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has called for “radical reform” within the Church and once again urged bishops to take responsibility for their actions following the resignation yesterday of the Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray.
Dr Martin’s comments came as abuse victims last night applauded Bishop Murray’s long-awaited and “overdue” decision to step down but warned Garda action must be taken against those found to have mishandled abuse complaints.
There was also widespread speculation last night that four other auxiliary bishops criticised in the Judge Yvonne Murphy report – Bishops Moriarty, Drennan, Field and Walsh – will resign shortly.
In a hard-hitting statement Archbishop Martin said the Church must assume accountability for decisions that resulted in further children being abused and described the Church as being in “a period of deep crisis”.
“There have been serious difficulties of structure and communication at management level in the Archdiocese of Dublin ... Accountability must be assumed for that and radical reform is required in the archdiocese, not just in the area of child protection,” he said.
He said he will meet those named in the report about the future of the diocese.
Bishop Murray officially announced his resignation at St John’s Cathedral in Limerick yesterday, the day after Fr Thomas Naughton, a priest about whom he ignored complaints of child sex abuse, was sentenced to three years in prison for abusing a boy at least 70 times in Valleymount, Co Wicklow, between 1982 and 1984.
He told those gathered at the cathedral he asked the Holy Father to allow him to resign last week.
“A bishop is meant to be a person who seeks to lead and inspire all the people of the diocese in living as a community united in the truth and love of Christ. I asked the Holy Father to allow me to resign and to appoint a new bishop to the diocese because I believed that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors,” he said.
A statement from the Vatican on the resignation did not mention clerical abuse but said the Pope had accepted Bishop Murray’s resignation according to a clause of Canon Law that calls on bishops to quit if they cannot fulfil their duties for a “serious reason”.
Mervyn Rundle, who was abused by Fr Thomas Naughton in Donnycarney parish in 1984, said gardaí have to move against a Church that allowed a culture of cover-up for 30 years.
While welcoming the resignation, One in Four director Maeve Lewis said each one of the former auxiliary bishops must resign “if the Church is to retain any credibility”.
“We await the outcome of the Garda investigation into the collusive behaviour of the bishops with great interest. If the hierarchy is truly remorseful, every bishop who has endangered children must make a full and frank statement to the gardaí and cooperate fully with the investigation,” she said.
Questioned on the street in Limerick city after Bishop Murray’s resignation, Limerick- based Redemptorist priest Fr Adrian Egan said every bishop should resign so there can be a new beginning with their replacements chosen by the faithful.
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