PRESSURE continues to mount on the Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray to resign amid further fallout from the report into child abuse in the Dublin diocese.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen hinted that the Government was losing patience with senior churchmen criticised in the report who are remaining in office and said those named should “reflect” on their positions.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern, meanwhile, has unleashed unprecedented criticism of the Vatican after its failure to co-operate with the Murphy Commission.
The minister said while there was now co-operation from the Holy See and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, it should have been forthcoming while the commission was looking for information.
“I would not agree with non-cooperation by anyone. This [commission] was set up by the state, and lack of co-operation by the Church, I do not think, is something that is or was correct. I do not think the stance of the Vatican was proper, they should have responded to requests for information in relation to very serious issues.”
His comments came as arguments over the future of the Church’s hierarchy became more divisive.
In Limerick, supporters of Dr Murray, made up of approximately 80 priests and lay-people, published a letter backing his position. “He has given us wonderful leadership… and we believe he is worthy of wholehearted support,” the group said.
Spokesman Rev Éamonn Fitzgibbon said after Sunday’s initial gathering of the group it was decided to flag their support for the bishop.
Bishop Murray has said he will not be commenting further while his diocese debates his fate.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said all the bishops criticised in the report should be stripped of their status as school patrons and removed from positions on hospital boards.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen seemed to take a firmer line on the issue yesterday. On Saturday, Mr Cowen said it was for the Church to decide how to deal with its leaders but yesterday, he asked the implicated bishops to reflect on their positions.
“What is emerging is the need for people to consider the situation now that has emerged… it is a matter for reflection now for those people who have been named in the report to see what way they can respond appropriately,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved