Saturday 19 October 2019

Stay or go: the bishops who face the axe

Ciaran Byrne

Bishop Martin Drennan

The Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan, is determined to hang on to his position and yesterday he continued a media offensive to save his job.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin believes that quitting would show collective responsibility for the cover-ups that went on.

Bishop Drennan was auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1997 to 2005. He was told about inappropriate behaviour involving a priest with the pseudonym Fr Guido and some male teenagers in 2002 and 2003.

However, the Murphy report clearly states that "the archdiocese acted correctly in immediately addressing concerns and suspicions in this case".

In a robust defence of his position, Bishop Drennan has said: "The report says nothing negative about me. I don't think I have any questions to answer, in fact, from my own reflections on the time there."

Some parishioners have called on the bishop to step down but the Galway diocese communications officer, Fr Sean McHugh, said there was widespread support for him.

"There is great support on the ground from people as well, and people are still very supportive of the priests and the parish. People seem to be happy to continue with us, and journey with us at this time," Fr McHugh said.

  • Bishop Eamonn Walsh

Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh has no intention of quitting -- but he may have to.

As secretary to former archbishops Kevin McNamara and Desmond Connell, he insists he had no decision-making capacity.

"When I was secretary, and it states it very clearly in the report, my role was that. . . of simply receiving messages, passing them on, but I wouldn't be at the decision-making table, wouldn't be privy to what was going on," he said.

Allegations about a Fr Dante (pseudonym) in 1997, dealt with by the bishop, were found by the commission to have been dealt with appropriately.

But the commission was told Bishop Walsh had been informed by a social worker that a client of hers had alleged she had been abused by a Fr Noel Reynolds.

Bishop Walsh "advised her to write to the chancellor". The commission says the archdiocese dealt "extremely badly" with allegations against Fr Reynolds but made no remark on Bishop Walsh's involvement.

He was apostolic administrator in Ferns diocese following the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey in 2002. He co-operated with the subsequent Ferns inquiry, which published its report in October 2005.

He admitted last week he had known of a priest as far back as 1990 who was "a danger" but this case is not mentioned in the Murphy report.

  • Bishop Raymond Field

The 65-year-old auxiliary bishop of Dublin claims he never had all the facts at hand and should definitely not have to quit.

"If I felt that I did anything wrong I would resign, of course, but I don't believe I've done anything wrong," he said.

He was ordained on September 21, 1997, just as his archdiocese appeared to be facing up to the scandals it had hidden for years.

While not accused of covering up cases of child sexual abuse by priests in Dublin, he was criticised for not giving enough information about one priest.

The Murphy report says that in the case of a Fr Sergius (pseudonym), Bishop Field told the commission he thought the priest had drink problems and was unaware of abuse complaints against him.

The commission said details given by him to priests in a parish to which a Fr Benito (pseudonym), facing allegations of child sexual abuse, was assigned in 2003 "were certainly not complete or sufficiently specific".

But the commission was concerned "about the failure to inform the bishop about the advisory panel's perception that he had delayed in reporting a complaint of child sex abuse".

Bishop Field has apologised to the victims of abuse and claimed he did not ever have all the facts at hand.

  • Bishop Jim Moriarty

THE only surprise for some observers is that the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Jim Moriarty has not yet resigned.

With parents in Co Carlow threatening to boycott religious sacraments officiated by him, the prelate is highly vulnerable.

But he has also been defiant, despite the clear wishes of Archbishop Martin for the auxiliary bishops to take collective responsibility.

Bishop Moriarty maintains he is only "briefly mentioned but not criticised" in the Murphy report.

An auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, in 1993 he received a complaint about a Fr Edmondus (pseudonym), concerning the priest's contact with young children. The priest was the abuser of victim Marie Collins in 1960 when she was a patient at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

The Murphy report says Bishop Moriarty discussed the complaint with local priests and then Archbishop Desmond Connell.

Irish Independent

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