Wednesday, December 23, 2009

After Murphy, Resignation #2

As noted in an update to yesterday's post on the situation in Ireland, a second bishop has proffered his resignation in the wake of the Murphy Report on the Dublin archdiocese's handling of clergy sex-abuse.

Now 73, Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin served as an auxiliary in the capital from 1991 to 2002. Moriarty came under the state inquiry's scrutiny in one case where, having received an allegation against a serially abusive priest, he passed the report on to other top archdiocesan officials and the then-archbishop, Cardinal Desmond Connell, but no follow-up into the priest's history was either called for nor made inside Archbishop's House.

One of five prelates whose resignations have been sought by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in an effort to restore credibility in the Irish church's top rank, as recently as early last week Moriarty maintained he had done "nothing wrong" and felt "no grounds" to depart his post. The bishop's thought apparently began to change late last week following discussions with his advisers and the Dublin archbishop's ultimatum that he'll petition the Holy See to remove any of the report's named prelates who don't leave on their own.

In announcing the move, Moriarty made the following statement:
On the Sunday after the ‘Murphy Report’ into the Archdiocese of Dublin was published (29th November 2009), I stated the following in Carlow Cathedral;

“As you are aware, I served as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1991 until my appointment here in 2002. While the Murphy Report does not criticise me directly, I feel it is important to state that I fully accept the overall conclusion of the Commission – that the attempts by Church authorities to ‘protect the Church’ and to ‘avoid scandal’ had the most dreadful consequences for children and were deeply wrong.”

I do not want to dwell here on individual criticism as I have already responded to that. As I acknowledged in radio interviews last week, the Murphy report covers far more than what individual Bishops did or did not do. Fundamentally it is about how the leadership of the Archdiocese failed over many decades to respond properly to criminal acts against children.

Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on what should be my response to the overall conclusion of the Murphy report – particularly because I was part of the governance of the Archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented.

It does not serve the truth to overstate my responsibility and authority within the Archdiocese. Nor does it serve the truth to overlook the fact that the system of management and communications was seriously flawed. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.

I know that any action now on my part does not take away the suffering that people have endured. I again apologise to all the survivors and their families. I have today offered my resignation as Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin to the Holy Father. I hope it honours the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned.

I will endeavour to continue to do my best, as I have throughout my 48 years of ministry, to share Christ’s light and hope for the world. We are about to celebrate Christmas, a time when we welcome Christ as the ‘light that darkness could not overpower’. It is this truth that leads us forward. Christ is our Light.

May the blessing, the grace and the peace of Christmas be with us all.
PHOTO: Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin