Thursday 17 October 2019

Murray did no favour to Church

BISHOP Donal Murray might have better served his church and the survivors of sexual abuse had he announced his resignation immediately after publication of the Murphy Report.

Instead, the acceptance by Pope Benedict XVl yesterday of his resignation, three long weeks after the event, simply compounds the public and international perception that the bishop of Limerick had spent the intervening period seeking mitigation and a way to avoid resigning.

He denies any procrastination, but with prompt action he might have spared himself prolonged personal distress and won admiration for having done the honourable thing. Delay has diminished the element of honour involved.

It should not be forgotten that Dr Murray stands accused of failing to investigate complaints against a priest who was jailed this week for abusing a six-year-old altar boy 70 times. He offers personal naivety as an excuse.

Dr Murray's valedictory address to his congregation yesterday was extremely moving, accompanied as it was by the sound of tolling bells echoing around St John's Cathedral in Limerick. But, although he offered a general apology to all victims of abuse, there was no acknowledgement of personal responsibility, no apology for his own actions, or inactions, described in the Murphy report as inexcusable.

That word, 'inexcusable', made Dr Murray's position untenable from the start, and made a prompt, dignified resignation his best course of action.

Did he feel constrained by traditional Catholic Church mores?

Are the other bishops named in the Murphy Report acting in what they see as their Church's best interests?

The manner of Dr Murray's eventual resignation has rendered those other former auxiliary bishops' stepping down inevitable. While continuing to avoid any admission of personal guilt, Dr Murray said he was resigning "because I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers".

If concern for the feelings of those who were abused by priests who were overseen by a particular bishop is sufficient reason for that bishop's resignation, then it follows that the other named bishops should follow Dr Murray's example.

If they are seen to do so reluctantly they will help neither their church nor the survivors for whom they all express such deep concern.

Irish Independent

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