THE outgoing Catholic Bishop of Kildare will be among a delegation of 24 diocesan bishops attending next week's summit talks at the Vatican with Pope Benedict on the child clerical abuse crisis.
Bishop Jim Moriarty offered to resign two months ago, and Pope Benedict's delay in accepting the resignation came under renewed criticism last night from victim Marie Collins.
Bishop Moriarty formerly served as an auxiliary bishop in the Dublin archdiocese which acknowledged collective responsibility for cover-ups.
Accepting Bishop Moriarty's sincerity, Ms Collins last night questioned why the Pope had delayed so long in confirming this resignation compared with how quickly he accepted the stepping-down of Donal Murray -- another Dublin auxiliary -- as Bishop of Limerick.
Ms Collins also called on Pope Benedict to demand the resignation of the embattled Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, for having been part of the church culture of cover-ups operating in the Dublin archdiocese when he was an auxiliary bishop there from 1997 to 2004.
Bishop Drennan, who was named in the Murphy Report, has become a divisive figure in the episcopal ranks after telling Archbishop Diarmuid Martin that he did no wrong and was not resigning.
"My hope is that Pope Benedict backs the position of Archbishop Martin," said Ms Collins. "If not, there will be no way forward to recovery for the Irish Church. It will be a disaster."
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent last night learned that the Irish Catholic Bishops have retreated to the west of Ireland to seek spiritual guidance ahead of next week's crisis showdown with Pope Benedict. The bishops, led by Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Martin, gathered unannounced yesterday afternoon at the Marian Shrine in Knock, Co Mayo.
Last night, the spokesman for the Bishops' Conference, Martin Long, said the annual two-day retreat was arranged well in advance of the Rome summit. But informed senior church sources told the Irish Independent that the spiritual retreat was also being used by the bishops to prepare for the meeting.
Twenty-four of the 26 heads of dioceses will attend the unprecedented Rome summit.
But absent will be the former Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray, whose resignation has already been accepted by Pope Benedict; and the former Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, who last year was removed from office by the Pope after being found not to have applied agreed national child protection rules in his Cork diocese.