Irish Bishop Resigns after Sex Abuse Scandal

December 17, 2009 - 1:48 PM
A Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland has resigned after a probe of child sex abuse by clergymen accused him of ignoring reports of crimes by priests in his diocese, the Vatican said Thursday.
Vatican City (AP) - A Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland has resigned after a probe of child sex abuse by clergymen accused him of ignoring reports of crimes by priests in his diocese, the Vatican said Thursday.
 
The one-line announcement that Bishop Donal Murray had resigned did not mention the scandal. But a statement that Murray read to colleagues and curates in the western Irish city of Limerick left no doubt that he was going because of an Irish government investigation's damning findings about his time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996.
 
"I know full well that my resignation cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day," the 69-year-old Murray said. "I humbly apologize once again to all who were abused as little children."
 
Murray had been widely expected to resign following last month's report from a government-appointed commission. It ruled that Murray had handled reports of child-abusing priests "particularly badly" - and condemned his failure to crack down on one particular abuser, the Rev. Thomas Naughton, as "inexcusable."
 
Murray transferred Naughton to new parishes despite receiving dozens of reports that he was molesting children. Naughton since has been convicted twice of raping altar boys.
 
The investigation found four other serving bishops and five retired bishops, including Cardinal Desmond Connell, as playing a role in the scandal cover-up for decades.
 
The report said that church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese failed to inform authorities about sexual abuse by priests, while police failed to pursue allegations under the belief that church figures were above the law.
 
An abuse survivor, Andrew Madden, said Murray's resignation was not enough and other church leaders should quit too.
 
He called for the immediate resignation of four bishops who were all based in Dublin during the period investigated: Jim Moriarty, Martin Drennan, Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field.
 
"Their continued presence in office is an insult to every child sexually abused by a priest in the Dublin Archdiocese. They display a contemptible level of arrogance and a shocking lack of humility," Madden said.
 
But all four bishops have said they have no intention of tendering their resignations to the pope. Unlike Murray, the other four bishops were not found to have bungled any specific abuse reports, but all were deemed to have been involved in the Dublin church's cover-up of abuse cases.
 
The Vatican has been harshly criticized in Ireland, a nation of staunch Catholic traditions, for failing to answer letters from the Dublin Archdiocese investigators.
 
Last week, the Vatican described Benedict as being "deeply disturbed" by the sex-abuse scandal and said he will write a letter to Catholics in Ireland with the Holy See's response. It said also the pope shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by many Irish faithful.
 
Benedict issued that statement after meeting at the Vatican with senior Irish clergy to discuss possible resignations of Murray and other Irish bishops criticized in the Dublin Archdiocese investigation.
 
The 720-page report found that dozens of church leaders in Ireland's most populous diocese kept secret the record of child abuse by more than 170 clerics since 1940.
 
Police and social workers charged with stopping child abuse didn't start getting cooperation from the church until 1995. This opened the floodgates to thousands of abuse complaints expected to cost the Dublin Archdiocese euro20 million ($30 million).
 
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Pogatchnik contributed from London. Associated Press Writer Jennifer Quinn in London contributed to this report.