Future of embattled bishop is in Pope's hands
THE future of embattled Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan is in the hands of Pope Benedict, a senior Irish bishop confirmed last night.
A two-day summit of the Irish Catholic hierarchy gets under way this morning in the Vatican to discuss the wave of clerical sexual abuse that has rocked the church.
But a decision on Bishop Drennan's position can only be made by the German pontiff.
Cardinal Sean Brady will open today's summit with a presentation, before each of the 24 bishops is given seven minutes to speak on the crisis facing the moral authority of the church in the wake of the Murphy report.
Bishop of Clogher Joseph Duffy said it was the Pope's prerogative to decide if a bishop should resign or be removed.
"That is something that will happen or not happen as a result of the overall discussion that will take place over two days with the Holy Father," he said.
Bishop Duffy was speaking at a pre-summit news conference at the Pontifical Irish College, where he was asked by the Irish Independent to clarify if the bishops had vetoed Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin raising the question of the resignation or removal of Bishop Drennan, a former auxiliary in Dublin named in the Murphy report.
"The precise question of resignation is not on the agenda of the bishops because that is not our prerogative," said Bishop Duffy. "It is not our business."
He added: "I did not say Archbishop Martin was precluded from raising anything. What Archbishop Martin decides to say is his own business.
"This is left to each bishop to decide what to say and what not to say."
Bishop Duffy said the issue of Bishop Drennan's future "is not on my agenda or of any other bishop's agenda unless he decides to speak in a personal capacity about it".
He said that all the Irish bishops accepted the findings of the Murphy report.
And Bishop Duffy added: "I accept absolutely that the Holy Father will row in with that."
"It is not our business as individual bishops to discuss publicly a resignation," he said.
"That is something that will happen or not happen as a result of the overall discussion that will take place over two days."
Bishop Duffy stressed several times that the Pope had issued individual invitations to the 24 bishops, quite a different matter from summoning them collectively as the Conference of Bishops of Ireland.
Asked if the bishops would explain to Pope Benedict the role of the Vatican in this culture of cover-up, Bishop Duffy said that it was the moral authority of the Irish bishops that had been called into question by the scandals.
"We will be trying to chart a way forward in terms of more accountability, more honesty and more acceptability. We appreciate that our moral authority is questioned. The fullness of truth is the issue," he said.
Bishop Duffy was asked to comment on the public dispute between Archbishop Martin and Bishop Drennan after Dr Martin asked the Galway to be accountable for the findings of the Murphy report.
Bishop Duffy said that Archbishop Martin's asking Bishop Drennan to be publicly accountable "is not the same as saying that he expects him to resign which unfortunately is the meaning that people have taken out of it".
And Bishop Duffy added that it was not for him to say if Archbishop Martin had questioned Bishop Drennan's integrity after the report was published.
That was a question that journalists should put to Bishop Drennan.
Last night, Cardinal Sean Brady and bishops attended a 'month's mind' Mass for Cardinal Cahal Daly at his titular church of St Patrick's Church.
Archbishop Martin arrived too late in Rome last night to attend the Mass but is expected to address the Pope immediately after Cardinal Brady this morning.
The papal letter to the Catholics of Ireland will follow in due course, said Bishop Duffy.
"The Pope has to take account of what the bishops said and to consider this," he said.
"This is not a cosmetic exercise as some people seem to think.
"It is very serious."