Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of a third Irish bishop over the Catholic hierarchy’s handling of clerical child abuse, the Church confirmed today.
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin James Moriarty announced he was quitting the post in December last year over the mishandling of allegations during his time in the Dublin Archdiocese.
Despite previously insisting he should not resign, the cleric follows former Bishop of Cloyne John Magee and former Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray out of office.
Moriarty said his resignation was the most difficult decision of his career.
“I did not anticipate resigning when I first read the Murphy Report, because I was not directly criticised,” the cleric said in a statement.
“However, the Murphy Report covers far more than what individual bishops did or did not do. Renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past.
“Again I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.
“Once more I apologise to all survivors and their families.”
However, Moriarty said words of apology are not enough and said the Church was learning from its mistakes, putting in place child safeguarding procedures and being aware of the need for constant vigilance to protect children.
“The truth is that the long struggle of survivors to be heard and respected by Church authorities has revealed a culture within the Church that many would simply describe as unchristian,” he said.
“People do not recognise the gentle, endless love of the Lord in narrow interpretations of responsibility and a basic lack of compassion and humility.
“This has been profoundly dispiriting for all who care about the Church.”
Moriarty said it had been a privilege to serve in the diocese for the last eight years.
Cardinal Sean Brady, also under intense pressure over investigations into one of the most notorious paedophile priests Brendan Smyth, praised Bishop Moriarty's work in the hierarchy.
“I would like to acknowledge the contribution that Bishop Moriarty has made to the work of the Bishops’ Conference,” the Cardinal said.
“Bishop Moriarty’s vision and innovative approach to his work in the Bishops’ Conference will be missed, as will his great pastoral wisdom and experience.
“I wish him well in the future and I assure him of my prayers at this time.”
Moriarty was named by the Murphy inquiry over inadequate church investigations into a paedophile priest in Dublin in the 1990s.
The commission’s shocking report found the senior cleric received a complaint in 1993 while auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese about a priest known as Fr Edmondus.
It contained allegations of abuse and contact the priest had with young children more than 30 years earlier.
Edmondus had preyed upon youngsters while chaplain in Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin.
Moriarty was asked to investigate and discuss the allegations with local priests and then archbishop, now retired cardinal, Desmond Connell.
The Murphy report found the investigation was not taken any further.
Moriarty served as an auxiliary bishop in the Dublin archdiocese between 1991 and 2002.
The Murphy inquiry, based on a sample 46 priests, revealed a catalogue of paedophilia and subsequent cover-ups over three decades because the Catholic hierarchy, obsessed with secrecy, was effectively granted police immunity.
It has since been extended to cover the mishandling of complaints in Bishop Magee’s former diocese of Cloyne.