Bishops accused of lobbying Pope on lack of responsibility over abuse

A LEADING Vatican correspondent has suggested the two Irish bishops, whose resignations were not accepted by the Pope this week, wrote to the pontiff highlighting they had no responsibility in the handling of abuse cases.

As calls continued yesterday for Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field still to resign their posts, it was suggested the embattled clerics had been in contact with the Holy See after initially offering to step down.

Vatican correspondent Andrea Tornelli of Milan’s Il Giornale, suggested the two men wrote to the Vatican distancing themselves from accusations.

“After having publicly announced and presented their resignations, they sent to the Vatican briefs in which they explained that they had no responsibility in the handling of abuse cases.

“In fact, this defence has appeared as a retraction of the [resignation] decision announced,” the Vatican insider wrote on his blog.

Both bishops have remained silent since it emerged this week that the pontiff would not be accepting their resignations after the men offered to step down publicly last Christmas Eve.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told priests of the Pope’s decision by letter this week, adding that the bishops would “still be available” to administer confirmation in parishes.

Mr Tornelli, also a papal biographer, said the alleged lobbying of the Pope by the two bishops was viewed as a withdrawal of their resignations.

Mr Tornelli went on to suggest the Pope’s decision and resultant negative publicity did not bode well for his pending visit to Britain in September.

Meanwhile, abuse survivor and campaigner Marie Collins has insisted that the two bishops should still resign. Speaking on RTÉ Radio Ms Collins said the Pope’s decision was an insult to the people of Ireland.

Ms Collins, who was abused by a senior priest in the Dublin diocese when she was just 12 years old, called on the Church to make a public statement about the two bishops.

“The Pope, the Vatican, the hierarchy here, nobody has made a statement to the people saying these resignations have been refused and this is the reason why. We’re just not worthy of an explanation... and that’s the attitude to the laity unfortunately.”

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence