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Saturday 19 October 2019

Split over Cloyne bishop casts Church into 'crisis'

John Cooney, Religion Correspondent

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin remained tight-lipped last night as a leading Catholic activist described Cardinal Sean Brady's support for Bishop John Magee as creating "a most serious crisis of leadership for the Irish Catholic Church".

Last night a spokesman for Archbishop Martin said that he had no comment to make in response to the Cardinal's support in Killarney on Tuesday for Bishop Magee to stay in office.

But Sean O'Conaill, the national coordinator of the Voice of the Faithful, which campaigns for accountability by the leadership of the Irish Church, said that the Archbishop of Dublin must be feeling badly let down by the Cardinal, the Archbishop of Thurles, Dermot Clifford and the Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary. All three have expressed their confidence in Bishop Magee now implementing proper child protection practices in Cloyne.

"Last week Archbishop Martin stated a fundamental principle, that the Irish bishops had to have a system whereby people are pushed to be accountable," Mr O'Conaill told the Irish Independent. "The Voice of the Faithful applaud and welcome this statement, because it clearly applies to the situation in Cloyne and right across the island.

"We see Archbishop Martin as pointing in a completely different direction on this issue of accountability from Ireland's other three archbishops."

Mr O'Conaill said that Cardinal Brady "seems not to have noted that Bishop Magee has proved himself not to be reliable and dependable from the point of view of parents".

Mr O'Conaill's comments echoed widespread dismay and frustration among priests and laity in Dublin and throughout the country, including the diocese of Cloyne, at what is seen as a U-turn by Cardinal Brady who had appeared to be on Archbishop Martin's side in believing that Bishop Magee's mishandling of allegations against two priests warranted his resignation.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of the victims' counselling group One in Four, said that her office was inundated yesterday with calls from priests, many of them not wishing to give their names, expressing their disillusionment with Cardinal Brady's view that Bishop Magee should stay to cooperate with the State investigation into his diocese.

"Two worried parents from the Cloyne diocese phoned to say that they do not want their children to be confirmed by Bishop Magee in March," Ms Lewis told the Irish Independent last night.

An editorial in this week's 'Church of Ireland Gazette' said Bishop Magee's resignation "would have the benefit of providing a very explicit recognition of the utmost importance of child protection procedures".

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