BISHOP of Limerick Donal Murray, who was harshly criticised in a damning report on the Church’s mishandling of clerical child sex abuse, was last night given the full backing of priests and Mass-goers in his diocese.
The highly influential pastoral leaders issued a statement which was also supported by the three most senior priests in the diocese next to the bishop.
The statement said: “We believe it would be a retrograde step for the continuing development of Safeguarding Children in our diocese and society, for our bishop to resign.”
Signatories to the statement include Joe O’Connell, a lay worker; Noirin Lynch, diocesan pastoral co-ordinator; Aoife Walsh, child protection training co-ordinator; Christy Walsh, diocesan pastoral council; Mary Ryan-Synnott, chairperson pastoral area; and the three vicar generals of the dicoese of Limerick, Monsignor Michael Lane, Monsignnor Daniel Neenan and Very Reverend Eamonn Fitzgibbon.
“The Dublin report is full of pain, real shame and intense sorrow. We know that we must acknowledge the work and perseverance of those who brought these crimes to light, and our pain, shame and sorrow is nothing compared to what the abused have suffered and how their lives were violated.
“We are convinced from our experience of his 13 years as our bishop that Donal Murray is a good person. We have deep respect for and total confidence in his personal integrity, as well as his commitment to truth and justice. We believe him when he says; ‘I never deliberately or knowingly sought to cover up or withhold information brought to my attention’.
“We believe it would be a retrograde step for the continuing development of Safeguarding Children, in our diocese and society, for our bishop to resign.”
Around 80 lay people and priests attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, former Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan yesterday speculated that Bishop Murray is unlikely to come through the present crisis in the wake of the Murphy Report.
Mr Noonan said: “I would not be optimistic about his chances of survival.”
West Limerick Fianna Fáil deputy Niall Collins said the public mood in his constituency was against the bishop.
He said: “As a public representative the overwhelming view that I am receiving is that he should resign.”
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