Tuesday 22 January 2019

Nephew defends bishop's handling of paedophile priest

Bishop John McAreavey said he ‘wrestled’ with the decision
Bishop John McAreavey said he ‘wrestled’ with the decision

Dean Grey

The storm over the handling of clerical child sex abuse that sparked the resignation of the Bishop of Dromore has led to the cleric's nephew coming to his defence.

Bishop John McAreavey announced he was standing down from his position last week amid growing controversy around how the Catholic Church dealt with paedophile Fr Malachy Finnegan.

Dr McAreavey had known about allegations of child abuse against the disgraced cleric as far back as the mid-1990s, and conducted Finnegan's funeral.

Finnegan has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people. The allegations came to light in a BBC 'Spotlight' programme that also looked at the Church's response.

At the weekend the Bishop's nephew, also named John McAreavey, issued a statement on Twitter defending his uncle.

In it Mr McAreavey also made reference to criticism he had received for remarrying five years after his wife Michaela, daughter of Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius.

Mr McAreavey wrote: "In the past seven years, I've lived with people questioning my decision to seek life and love again, I've been accused of unspeakable acts, I've endured injustice of a great magnitude...but to see my uncle vilified like he has been causes great pain and anger.

"Uncle John has dedicated his life to God and to serving others. He has always acted with people's best intentions at heart.

"To see some media use vulnerable people to achieve a 'demonstration of perceived power' is both callous and vindictive. We need to care for people by listening and trying to right the wrongs of the past, not using their plight for personal gain.

"My prayer is that the innocent victims of the horrendous abuse caused by Malachy Finnegan will receive the healing they truly deserve."

A statement by Bishop McAreavey on his resignation was read out to parishioners at Mass yesterday.

In it he said he had "wrestled" with the decision to resign, and "following recent media coverage which has disturbed and upset many people, I decided on Thursday to resign".

"I would ask you first and foremost to continue to hold in your prayers those who have been abused," he said.

Irish Independent

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