Comiskey ‘was not forced to resign’

BISHOP Brendan Comiskey’s replacement stood by him yesterday, insisting the former Bishop of Ferns was not forced to resign.

Dr Eamonn Walsh rejected claims made in a BBC documentary on Wednesday and said now was the time for healing, rather than raking over the past.

He apologised for not meeting with clerical sexual abuse victims and their families as quickly as he had hoped.

Dr Walsh said he was anxious to visit communities in his diocese which had been hit by abuse.

He said he was not privy to the details of legal correspondence sent by Brendan Comiskey to the BBC, after the former Bishop of Ferns said he would sue the station for broadcasting the programme.

But Dr Walsh said he was certain Bishop Comiskey was not forced to resign.

“They (the BBC) were trying to suggest Bishop Comiskey was forced to resign. Quite the opposite was the case. He made that point very clearly.

"I suppose it was an illustration of really, where a spin can mislead people. It is very clear Bishop Brendan approached the Nuntio to say he wished to resign.

"They tried to persuade him to think more. The same process happened when he went to Rome.

"The canon under which he resigned was a ‘catch all’ section, which included health and distress. He said he could not be an instrument of healing. The spin put on it was unfair.

“We have to learn from the past. There is no point in raking over the past if we don’t learn from it. “Mistakes have been made in the past and people have been hurt.

Any time I speak to a victim of child sexual abuse, when it is abuse by a priest it is a double betrayal. People put an extra trust in a priest and when that trust is broken, it is horrific,” Dr Walsh told South East Radio yesterday.

“Children are our most vulnerable and to destroy them by abusing them sexually and destroy their innocence is the exact opposite to what we have been ordained for.”

The BBC programme was a missed opportunity, he said. “We have moved on. We still have an awful lot to do. When I heard Monica Fitzpatrick on the programme and saw the hurt on her face, I still regret that I did not get back to her more quickly.”

Monica Fitzpatrick’s son, Peter, took his own life. She felt he may have been abused by paedophile priest Sean Fortune.

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