News Analysis

Saturday 20 September 2014

Bishop Drennan, it's time to fall on your crozier and quit

JOHN COONEY

Published 29/12/2009 | 05:00

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AT a Mass in Dublin's St Michan's Church marking the opening of the law term, in October 2000, a Catholic bishop ascended the high moral ground in his sermon to the legal and judicial luminaries when he lambasted the British media tactic of "naming and shaming" convicted offenders.

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This lamentable practice "has had frightening consequences", intoned the bishop to an audience which would have included Frank 'Ferns' Murphy, Sean 'Industrial schools' Ryan and Yvonne 'Dublin' Murphy, all three shortly to become immortalised for "naming and shaming" archbishops, auxiliary bishops and religious superiors who covered up heinous crimes against innocent children by paedophile priests.

That day's preacher-bishop was an Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin, Dr Martin Drennan, who nine years later as Bishop of Galway was named in the archdiocese of Dublin report but remains unashamed and unmoved by the appeals of victims Andrew Madden and Marie Collins to step down.

The Kilkenny-born bishop has gone into hiding leaving behind his spokesman to say that he did no wrong and that he was not criticised by Judge Yvonne Murphy for referring for treatment a priest, named as 'Father Guido', who had a passion for taking photographs of naked adolescents, especially rugby players.

Not mentioned by the Galway spokesman is that further investigation by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin led to this cleric's departure from the priesthood. The fact that Archbishop Martin included Bishop Drennan in his call for examination of consciences speaks volumes.

Before leaving his mansion on Galway's plush Taylor's Hill, Bishop Drennan had ample time to take to heart the words in the resignation statement of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Jim Moriarty, that "from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture" of cover-ups prevailing in the archdiocese of Dublin from January 1, 1975 to April 30, 2004.

Where and when during his eight-year stint in Dublin from 1997 to 2005 is Bishop Drennan on the public record as speaking out to challenge that system of cover-up which was embedded under the equivocating authority of Cardinal Desmond Connell? Please supply chapter and verse, Bishop Drennan, if your conscience is as undisturbed as you claim.

For his silence, Bishop Drennan should read the repentant words from Bishop Moriarty that "The Murphy report covers far more than what individual bishops did or did not do. Fundamentally, it is about how the leadership of the archdiocese failed over many decades to respond properly to criminal acts against children."

Now fall remorsefully on your crozier, Bishop Drennan, as part of the shaming process necessary for the restoration of the moral credibility and authority of bishops that has been abjectly taken by Jim Moriarty, Eamonn Walsh, Ray Field and Donal Murray.

In the immediate aftermath of the shocking Ferns report in October 2005, Dr Drennan, as the new Bishop of Galway, appealed to victims of child sexual abuse by priests to contact him if they needed help. But what is more striking was his admission under media pressure that six Galway priests had been the subject of a total of 13 allegations of child sexual abuse since 1950. Two of the six were still in ministry, and one was convicted by the courts.

Bishop Drennan's personal mentor and so-called Metropolitan in the western province, Dr Michael Neary, the Archbishop of Tuam, shoved out the dire news that, since 1940, allegations of child sexual abuse were made against 27 priests in his archdiocese.

Do Bishop Drennan and Archbishop Neary not believe that a Murphy-style probe is merited for the diocese of Galway and the archdiocese of Tuam? I certainly do. So most certainly do abuse victims.

Bishop Drennan claims he has the support of 60 Galway priests, but he has not yet responded to Andrew Madden's appeal to sit down with 60 victims to hear their stories and their demands that he quit.

Nor, I wonder, has Bishop Drennan given a thought to the older generation devastated by the Murphy report's conclusions that the structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated cover-up, and put the good name and assets of the institution above the welfare of children, which should have been its first priority.

One of the many emails I received yesterday was from a friend in America who informed me that her cousin from Co Laois spoke of two elderly women, devout church-goers, who no longer attend Mass as a result of this horrific scandal.

"It takes a lot to shake the faith of our elders, but the Murphy report of the sex abuse of minors in the Dublin archdiocese has been a tipping point for many," she wrote.

For their sake, the sake of victims and for the church he serves, Bishop Drennan should bow his head in shame and add his own name to the Litany of Fallen Bishops.

Irish Independent

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