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Monday 19 February 2018

Pope's refusal to let bishops quit an insult -- abuse victim

Breda Heffernan

A VICTIM of clerical abuse has described the Pope's refusal to accept the resignations of two bishops named in the Murphy report as an "insult to the people of Dublin".

Marie Collins said it is time for the pontiff and the Irish hierarchy to explain why Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field are allowed to remain in office.

"They want the faithful in the church to respect the bishops and the Pope, but they are showing no respect toward us. There has to be a proper, official statement because this is just too important to be slipped out the way it has," she added.

She said the attitude shown by the church so far has been that the laity are "just not worthy" of an explanation.

The Pope's decision was communicated toward the end of a private three-page letter sent by Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, to priests in the city earlier this week.

Both the Vatican and Dr Martin have refused to comment.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Collins said the acceptance of Bishop Jim Moriarty's resignation, who was also named in the Murphy report, now stands in stark contrast to the decision to allow Bishops Walsh and Field remain.

"The resignation of Bishop Moriarty was accepted and he was in the exact same position as the two auxiliary bishops, that is very strange."

She said that while Bishop Moriarty was "very sincere and very honourable" when he said he was stepping down because he had failed to challenge the culture of cover-up within the Archdiocese, it appears that the other two bishops, after offering their resignations, then fought to ensure they weren't accepted.

All three bishops tendered their resignations after Archbishop Martin called on those named in the Murphy report to take responsibility.

The Pope's decision was seen as a major blow to the authority of Dr Martin and Ms Collins said it was now clear "Rome is not behind him".

"The message that is going out to the other bishops is 'don't do as Archbishop Martin did, don't be accountable, open and transparent'. It's just putting us right back to where we were before. Nothing has changed at the top, all the messages from the Pope about taking responsibility were just that -- words."

She said the only hope for change in the church now lies with the grassroots as "clericalism is too ingrained".

Ms Collins and fellow abuse survivor, Andrew Madden, will be presented with 'Outstanding Courage Awards' at the Humbert Summer School in Castlebar, Co Mayo, next week.


The four-day summer school will bring together leading progressive Catholics from Ireland and the United States to investigate reforming relations between the churches in both countries and the Vatican.

Announcing the programme yesterday, director of the Humbert School and Irish Independent Religion Correspondent, John Cooney, said: "It will discuss ways of liberating the Irish and American churches from the diktat of the papacy and the Roman Curia, as well as initiating new forms of ministry such as married male clergy and women priests."

Meanwhile a protest against the Pope's decision will take place outside the Papal Nunciature in Dublin today.

Irish Independent

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