THE Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray’s expected resignation from his post could be announced today, as attention turns to who will succeed him in the short term.
Bishop Murray has come under sustained criticism since the publication of the Murphy Report into clerical child sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.
The devastating findings in the report included sharp criticism of Bishop Murray, an auxiliary bishop in Dublin between 1982 and 1996, for his failure to properly address the abuse of children by priests.
Current Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, and Cardinal Seán Brady have strongly intimated that Bishop Murray consider his position in light of the report’s findings.
It is understood Cardinal Brady conveyed his views directly to Bishop Murray last week before making them known publicly.
Bishop Murray travelled to Rome at the weekend with diocesan secretary, Fr Paul Finnerty, and is expected to tender his resignation. However, he may not meet directly with the Pope as the matter may be dealt with by the cardinal in charge of appointing bishops.
It is understood he is staying in the Irish College while in Rome.
The announcement of his resignation could be made today, although it is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which could delay the announcement until tomorrow.
Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin are due to meet Pope Benedict separately, possibly on Friday, although a Catholic communications spokesperson said yesterday that the details had not yet been finalised.
According to Vatican convention, the announcement of a bishop’s resignation is made at noon, and attention then turns to the appointment of an Apostolic Administrator, answerable to the Pope, to run the diocese for an interim period.
This is usually given to the bishop of a neighbouring diocese, but Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, turns 75 next year and according to Church convention will have to tender his own resignation, although it may not be accepted.
The Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr Dermot Clifford, is already overseeing the Cloyne Diocese after Bishop John Magee stood aside earlier this year.
In Limerick, clergy in the diocese were not informed of the bishop’s departure for Rome and were asked to deliver a statement on behalf of the bishop at all Sunday Masses.
At lunchtime Mass at the Dominican church, Fr Brendan Clifford offered prayers for god’s guidance for Dr Murray in these days. Fr Clifford also offered prayers for the childhoods which have been damaged by abuse.
It was widely believed that his fate was sealed following the intervention of Cardinal Seán Brady on Saturday who said: “If I found myself in a situation where I was aware that my failure to act, had allowed or mean that other children were abused then I would think I would resign.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Minister Micheál Martin will meet Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Papal Nuncio, for a meeting to discuss the findings of the Murphy Report “some time this week”.
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