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Thursday 19 January 2017

Church 'unchristian to abuse survivors' -- resigning bishop

John Cooney

Published 23/04/2010 | 05:00

THE former Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has called for reform of the Irish church to tackle the roots of the secretive, clericalist culture that led to cover-ups of paedophile priests.

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Bishop James Moriarty issued his call after Pope Benedict XVI yesterday officially confirmed acceptance of his resignation, offered last December in the wake of public fury at the shocking findings of the Murphy investigation into the archdiocese of Dublin.

"The decision to offer my resignation was the most difficult decision of my ministry," Bishop Moriarty, said in a statement. "I did not anticipate resigning when I first read the Murphy Report, because I was not directly criticised.

"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."

Bishop Moriarty was an Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin from 1991 until 2002.

"I was part of the governance of the Archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented," he admitted.

"Again I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture."

Dr Moriarty again apologised to survivors and their families. "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.

Bishop Moriarty went on to rally Irish Catholics in favour of church reform, rather than leaving in disillusion. He spoke of how the spiritual well-being of "the people of God" demanded that the principle of the church as always in need of reform -- which was embraced at the Second Vatican Council -- should again come to the forefront.

Dublin abuse victim, Andrew Madden, who spoke on the phone to Bishop Moriarty, told him he was very grateful for the content and tone of his resignation statement.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Sean Brady 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."

Pressure

But Bishop Moriarty's statement renewed the pressure either to resign or retire on former Dublin auxiliary Martin Drennan, now Bishop of Galway, and Cardinal Brady, who in 1975 swore two children to secrecy about their horrific abuse by notorious paedophile monk Brendan Smyth.

Bishop Moriarty's statement compared "very favourably to Bishop Drennan calling survivors vengeful and Cardinal Brady trying to pass himself off as a wounded healer," Mr Madden said. A spokesman for Cardinal Brady, who is on sick leave, said that the Cardinal remained committed to implementing fully best practices in child protection procedures.

Bishop Drennan was unavailable last night, but his spokesman referred to his statement last December in which he said he had done no wrong and was not resigning.

Maeve Lewis, the executive director of the One in Four victim support group, questioned whether individual resignations dealt with the systematic culture of cover-ups.

"When both the Pope and Cardinal Brady have been implicated in protecting sex offenders, does the resignation of individual bishops contribute to the protection of children?" she asked.

Last night it was unclear when Pope Benedict would replace Bishop Moriarty.

Senior church sources suggested there might be a delay pending a Vatican-directed scaling down of the number of Irish bishoprics from its present total of 26.

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