Cleric had strong papal ties
Published 14/07/2011 | 05:00
JOHN Magee arrived in the sprawling Cork diocese of Cloyne seemingly destined for greater things.
In 1987, many in Cloyne believed the Down-born cleric was earmarked for the red hat of cardinal -- and perhaps even a future Irish contender for the papacy.
Having served as private secretary to three different popes -- Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II -- he arrived at St Colman's Cathedral in Cobh boasting Vatican connections that other Irish bishops could only dream about.
Yet on March 24, 2010, just one week after he celebrated the 48th anniversary of his ordination and the 23rd anniversary of his elevation to bishop, Dr Magee (74) confirmed his resignation had been accepted by Pope Benedict XVI two weeks earlier.
It came as little surprise given the appalling damage inflicted on the diocese in a report by the church's own watchdog, the National Board for the Safeguarding of Children, the previous year.
For 14 months, Dr Magee had effectively been Bishop of Cloyne in name only while his diocese was administered by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford.
For the past three years, Dr Magee has declined to comment publicly on the report into the handling of clerical child abuse allegations until the document was formally published.
Yesterday, the 74-year-old bishop was nowhere to be seen at the parochial house in Mitchelstown, to which he retired last year. His only comments on the report came via his public relations firm.
Archbishop Clifford said Dr Magee should have been sitting in front of the media yesterday answering questions rather than him. He said he believed Dr Magee was overseas, but didn't know where.