Moriarty offers resignation to Pope over Murphy report


Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Jim Moriarty has offered his resignation to Pope Benedict, admitting he should have challenged the "prevailing culture" within the Catholic Church that allowed criminal acts against children to take place.

Bishop Moriarty (73) had been under considerable pressure to resign after being named in the Murphy report.

Dr Moriarty, an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, said last week he would step down ahead of his planned retirement, due in two years, if this would serve the church and victims of clerical sex abuse.

The Murphy report, published last month, said he received a complaint about a priest - identified in the report by the pseudonym Fr Edmondus - in 1993 concerning the priest's contact with young children. This was the priest who had abused Marie Collins in 1960 when she was a patient at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin.

Dr Moriarty discussed the complaint with local priests and then Archbishop Desmond Connell. "No attempt was made by archdiocesan authorities to check the archives or other files relating to Fr Edmondus when these complaints were received," the commission report said.

In a statement this afternoon, Dr Moriarty noted that 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”.

“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,” he said.

“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,” he added. “However, with the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.”

Dr Moriarty said that while he accepted no action on his part could take away the suffering of victims, he repeated his apology to all the survivors and their families.

He said he hopes his resignation “honours the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned”.

Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray announced his resignation last week. He had been under pressure to step down since the Murphy report described his handling of an allegation of clerical child sex abuse when he was an auxiliary bishop in Dublin as “inexcusable”.

Ms Collins said this afternoon that while she would “take no joy” from the resignation of Dr Moriarty, she welcomed it. She said all the hierarchy must have been aware of the abuse allegations. Doing nothing was as bad as being actively involved in a cover-up, she said.

“They all knew what was going on,” she told RTÉ Radio. “One of them should have stood up and said this has to stop.”

Abuse survivor Andrew Maddel noted that both Bishop Murray and Bishop Moriarty had resigned for the good of the Church and without accepting any responsibility for the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests. “This is not surprising to me,” he said.

Elsewhere, support group One In Four repeated calls for the three remaining auxiliary bishops named in the report to also resign. “Ultimately, the resignations of all the auxiliary bishops named in the report are inevitable,” said Chief executive Maeve Lewis said. “It will be immeasurably damaging to both survivors and the Catholic Church if this process is dragged out indefinitely. We call on all concerned to provide real moral leadership by finding the courage to acknowledge responsibility for their actions and inaction and to resign immediately.”

The other senior clerics facing calls to stand down are the Bishop of Galway Dr Martin Drennan and Dublin Auxiliary Bishops Dr Ray Field and Dr Éamonn Walsh.