Monday, November 30, 2009

Bishop fights mounting calls to quit over scandal

Bishop fights mounting calls to quit over scandal
Gardai probe paedophile ring as prelate hangs on

Monday November 30 2009

THE Bishop of Limerick was under mounting pressure last night to resign over his handling of child sexual abuse complaints while he worked in Dublin.

But despite demands from abuse survivors, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has refused to call for Dr Donal Murray to quit -- after damning criticisms of him in the Murphy report into child abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin.

Archbishop Martin was, however, sharply critical of Cardinal Desmond Connell, his predecessor as archbishop of Dublin, who he said had been "scarce with the truth" in comments about the use of church funds to compensate victims.

And speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Dr Martin confirmed that gardai were still investigating whether a paedophile ring of priests operated in Dublin.

Bishop Murray said yesterday he would "be guided by the priests and people" of his diocese as to whether he would resign.

But Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore, Co Down, said: "Any bishop today around whom there are serious questions in relation to the care and protection of children has serious questions to answer.

"I know that (Bishop Murray) has taken the view that he should remain, but I think he will be thinking very seriously about that."

The report described Bishop Murray's failure to investigate one allegation as inexcusable.

He said: "As far as I am concerned the question of whether I should resign is a question of whether my presence here is a help or a hindrance."

Two of the most prominent survivors of child abuse, Andrew Madden and Marie Collins, yesterday both said they were disappointed in Dr Martin for not issuing "a clear statement" on whether he thinks Bishop Murray should resign.

Archbishop Martin told the Irish Independent he believed that "resignations are, by their very nature, personal decisions".

"If they do not come from the heart, they are meaningless," he said. "At this moment, I still believe that decisions should be personal and I have not indicated my own views beyond indicating that the best interests of children should be a principal priority in the decision-making process," he added.

The Government has also stopped short of expressly spelling out whether Bishop Murray should resign.

Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said he knew Bishop Murray personally, adding: "I am sure Donal Murray, who is a person who would think deeply about these things, is examining his situation . . . and he will make the appropriate decision."

Speaking at 10am Mass in St Joesph's Church, Limerick city yesterday morning, Dr Murray said: "If there are cases where the abuse of children might have been prevented had I acted differently, I offer to them my sincerest apology.

"I can honestly say that, in the one such case that I can think of, my inability to get to the full truth was not the result of any lack of effort . . . but a lack of skill and experience."


Shame

In a statement read out at Masses in his diocese, Dr Willie Walsh, Bishop of Killaloe expressed "deep sadness and shame at the revelations contained in the Dublin report".

Bishop of Kerry, Dr Bill Murphy, urged all those in the diocese who were sexually abused by clergy to come forward.

Archbishop Martin, meanwhile, said an investigation into whether a paedophile ring existed was ongoing.

"When I was collecting documents (for the commission from the archdiocese's secret files) . . . I discovered that one person was abused by two separate priests," Dr Martin said.

"As soon as I read this, I told Phil Garland, then the head of the diocesan child protection office, to ask the gardai explicitly to investigate this matter. The investigation (by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation) is still going on and is mentioned in the report."

The report, by Judge Yvonne Murphy, found "no direct evidence" of a paedophile ring but found "worrying connections" between a number of priests among 46 listed in its findings.

In an open letter to parishioners, read at Masses in Dublin yesterday, Dr Martin again apologised for the abuse.

"To each and every survivor, I express my own personal apology, my sorrow and my shame for what has happened to them. I am aware, however, that no word of apology will ever be sufficient," the letter said.

Criticising Cardinal Connell's previous use of the term, Dr Martin said: "Mental reservation is where you make a declaration and it is not untrue, but you don't necessarily tell the entire truth."

In 1995, Cardinal Connell loaned the notorious Fr Ivan Payne money from church funds to deal with a case taken by victim Andrew Madden.

In an interview with RTE, the cardinal denied he used church funds to compensate victims.

But, by using the present tense, he did not exclude that the funds might have been used in that way in the past.

"I saw that, and that isn't mental reservation -- that is being scarce with the truth," said Dr Martin.

- Shane Hickey, John Cooney and Barry Duggan

Irish Independent

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