Saturday 20 October 2018

Bishop resigns following row over role at paedophile priest's funeral

The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey
The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey

Michael Donnelly

The Bishop of Dromore has resigned following the controversy over his officiating at a paedophile priest's funeral.

Bishop Dr John McAreavey stepped down yesterday after weeks of anger when it emerged that he said Requiem Mass for Fr Malachy Finnegan, a paedophile and former president at St Colman's College Newry.

In a statement released by his solicitors Arthur J Downey yesterday, the bishop said his resignation would take "immediate effect".

In the simple two-line statement, Dr McAreavey said: "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect.

"I shall make further comment in due course."

Last month, he met parents from a Co Down primary school, who, along with families from other schools, said they did not want him to officiate at their children's Confirmation.

Confirmation

Even before the parents of children from St Patrick's Primary School, Hilltown, Carrick Primary School, Burren and St Patrick's Mayobridge voiced their concerns, Bishop McAreavey admitted making "an error of judgment" by officiating at the 2002 funeral of the paedophile teacher.

Dr McAreavey described the crimes of Finnegan as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

The bishop, who has also spoken to a victim of Fr Finnegan, said that his decision - made when he was a priest - to say the Mass "was the wrong one".

Allegations about the disgraced teacher and cleric were highlighted in a recent BBC 'Spotlight' programme, although the first allegation against him came to light in 1994.

Fr Malachy Finnegan died in 2002 and has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people.

Fr Finnegan served at St Colman's from 1967 to 1971 and was a teacher from 1973 to 1976.

He was president of the college from 1976 to 1987.

Between 1994 and 2016, the 12 allegations of abuse were made against him.

Irish Independent

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