Bishop stays silent on future ahead of key Vatican summit
The embattled Bishop of Galway last night refused to say if he will offer his resignation to Pope Benedict next week after persistent demands from clerical abuse victims for him to stand down.
Bishop Martin Drennan, who was named in the Murphy report into the systematic cover-ups in the Archdiocese of Dublin, where he was an auxiliary bishop for seven years, also remained tight-lipped when asked if he expected Pope Benedict would call for his resignation when they met in the Vatican on Monday.
Refusing to comment on the crucial Rome summit, Bishop Drennan said: "I am going into this prayer meeting."
He then joined Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and other bishops, who were enjoying a coffee break during a spiritual retreat in a de-luxe hotel close to the Marian Shrine in Knock, Co Mayo.
Over the past two days, the bishops have listened to spiritual reflections given by Dominican preacher Fr Paul Murray on "Truth and Grace".
But at their third gathering since the publication of the Murphy report last November, the bishops also engaged in intensive final preparations for the extraordinary Rome summit on Monday and Tuesday.
Bishop of Clogher Joe Duffy told the Irish Independent that the bishops will hold a pre-summit news conference in Rome on Sunday at the Pontifical Irish College before they attend a special month's mind Mass for the late Cardinal Cahal Daly.
On Monday, the Pope will hold a round-table conference with the 24 members of the Irish hierarchy, with each of them being allocated seven minutes to make a presentation.
Bishop of Kildare, Jim Moriarty, who offered his resignation two months ago, will be present.
The bishops will also meet heads of Vatican departments and will return to their dioceses for Ash Wednesday penitential services, while anxiously awaiting the Pope's special Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
Meanwhile, a Dublin priest who was a victim of clerical abuse but later forgave his abuser, has claimed that a small but vocal group of disaffected clergy has sought to discredit Archbishop Martin.
In a call for unity in the latest issue of Catholic newspaper 'The Voice', the priest writes: "Let us cut him some slack. He was handed a poisoned chalice and is working valiantly for the diocese, we priests should unite behind him."
Meanwhile, a prominent Irish missionary priest has called on Irish bishops not to allow the Roman curia to present clerical child sexual abuse as an Irish problem.
"The bishops must have the courage to remind Rome that it has a lamentable record in the area of dealing with clerical child sexual abuse," said Fr Sean McDonagh in a letter, which is published in today's Irish Independent.
"Rome had got it wrong at both ends of the abuse spectrum" in promoting prelates who shielded abusers and in not pursuing complaints made against Fr Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, he said.