Pope declines resignations of two Irish bishops
Pope Benedict is reported to have refused to accept the resignations of two Irish bishops who stepped down in the wake of the publication of the Murphy report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
According to a letter, the contents of which have not been made public but which The Irish Catholic newspaper has seen, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has told the priests of his diocese that “Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops”.
Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh tendered their resignations on Christmas Eve 2009 after coming under intense pressure because they had served as bishops during the period investigated by the Murphy Commission into clerical child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Bishop Field and Bishop Walsh are to be assigned to revised responsibilities within the archdiocese of Dublin according to Archbishop Martin.
In their statement of resignation last Christmas, the two prelates said, “It is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologise to them.”
Last November’s Murphy report found that allegations about ‘Fr Dante’ in 1997, which were also addressed by Bishop Walsh, had been dealt with appropriately by the archdiocese.
In relation to abuser, Fr Noel Reynolds, the Murphy commission found that Bishop Walsh had been informed by a social worker that a client of hers had alleged she had been abused by Fr Reynolds.
Bishop Walsh “advised her to write to the chancellor”.
The Murphy Commission found allegations against ‘Fr Horatio’, a case which Bishop Field had been involved in, were dealt with appropriately by the archdiocese.
In relation to the case of ‘Fr Sergius’, Bishop Field told the commission he believed he was dealing with a priest who had an alcohol problem and was not aware of abuse complaints against him.
The commission found information given by Bishop Field to priests in the parish to which ‘Fr Benito’ was assigned in December 2003 “was certainly not complete or sufficiently specific”.
It was concerned “about the failure to inform Bishop Field about the advisory panel’s perception that he had delayed in reporting a complaint of child sex abuse”.
Two other bishops who served as auxiliaries in the Archdiocese during the period of time investigated by the Murphy report resigned following the publication of the commission’s findings.
Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray resigned in December after the report branded his failure to deal effectively with a priest suspected of being a paedophile as “inexcusable”.
It found that during Dr Murray’s time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996, he was dismissive of complaints about a priest who went on to abuse again.
Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare also offered his resignation to Pope Benedict in December and it was accepted in April.
Bishop Eamonn Walsh was appointed administrator in the Diocese of Ferns after the resignation of Bishop Brendan Comiskey in 2002, and for four years oversaw the running of the diocese while an inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in Ferns was carried out and new stringent child protection procedures were implemented.