THE Limerick diocese yesterday revealed how Bishop Donal Murray had informed senior priests in the diocese as far back as December 1 – just four days after the publication of the Murphy report – of his intention to resign.
In a statement released after the formal announcement of Bishop Murray’s resignation, the diocese revealed how the bishop had conveyed his decision to the Vicars General of the diocese.
According to the diocesan statement, he made this decision after taking the views of people inside and outside the diocese in the wake of the publication of the Murphy report.
The diocese spokesperson said issue had been taken with the fact that Bishop Murray did not announce his intention to resign when interviewed by the Limerick Leader on Tuesday, December 1, despite having, in the previous hour, discussed at a meeting with the Vicars General of the Diocese his intention to offer his resignation.
“Bishop Murray was not in a position to confirm anything in that interview of his intention to resign, nor was it within his gift to do so as it would be in breach of the process involved in submitting one’s resignation as a bishop,” the spokesman said.
The process of offering a bishop’s resignation to the Pope begins with the bishop notifying the Apostolic Nuncio of this intention. The Apostolic Nuncio then informs the Congregation of Bishops which in turn brings the matter to the Pope, he said.
The statement reveals that on December 2, Dr Murray asked the Apostolic Nuncio to arrange a meeting with the Congregation of Bishops in Rome. This meeting took place on December 7 at which Cardinal Re agreed to present Bishop Murray’s letter of resignation to the Pope on Saturday, December 12, during their weekly meeting.
Bishop Murray was told on Monday last that the Pope had acceded to his request and accepted his resignation.
The diocesan statement continued: “Cardinal Re agreed that it would be appropriate for Bishop Murray to return to Limerick in order to be present in the diocese at the time of the announcement by the Holy See yesterday.
The statement concluded: “Bishop Murray has expressed his appreciation to Cardinal Brady who was unfailingly supportive and helpful to him during this time.”
Bishop Murray’s resignation came into effect at 11am yesterday.
He announced his resignation at St John’s Cathedral to about 200 people who included about 50 priests.
The announcement was followed by an hour of prayer at which solemn music was played.
Bishop Murray arrived at the cathedral with the diocesan secretary, Fr Paul Finnerty, who accompanied Dr Murray to Rome where he requested Pope Benedict to accept his resignation.
Bishop Murray in his statement said he had asked the Holy Father to allow him to resign as he believed his presence would create difficulties for some of the survivors of abuse.
He had heard the views of many survivors in the days following the publication of the Murphy report. “Some expressed the wish that I should resign: others asked me not to do so.”
Dr Murray said the children whose trust was betrayed and who endured the terror, helplessness and suffering inflicted by a frightening and dominant adult, should always have a special place in our prayers.
Mayor of Limerick Kevin Kiely said Dr Murray had served the people of Limerick to the best of his ability and paid tribute to his work on behalf of the diocese.
Mr Kiely added: “I am saddened by the circumstances which led to Dr Murray’s resignation today after several days of reflection and I wish him well in the future.”
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