Most of congregation appears to back bishop on handling of abuse allegations

Mon, Nov 30, 2009, 00:00

CHURCH-GOERS HAD predominantly positive views yesterday about Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray and the homily he delivered at Mass in St Joseph’s parish in the city about his handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations.

One man, accompanied by his toddler daughter, believed “his response is inadequate and he has to go”. Asked about Dr Murray’s view that parish councils and representative groups would decide whether he should stay on as Bishop of Limerick, he said: “I think that if you’re a leader of an organisation you have to lead by example. I’m a manager of a business, employed by somebody else. If I mess up, I have to lead by example and go.”

However, another parishioner, Pat Downs, described the bishop’s homily as “quite informative. I’m glad he made a statement here.” Asked if he thought Dr Murray should resign, he said “absolutely not”. His wife, Nuala Downs, said: “We’re not here to judge this life. God is here to judge us.”

Like a number of the congregation, the Downses spoke to Dr Murray in the church after Mass. “One woman went up to the bishop and said he should resign,” Ms Downs added, but her own view was that “we shouldn’t be in church if we’re going to judge”.

Some 200 people, mainly older, attended the ceremony and applauded the bishop after his homily on the commission investigating the handling of abuse in the Dublin archdiocese and his actions.

Dr Murray is under pressure to resign because of the commission’s conclusion that it was “inexcusable” that he failed to reinvestigate complaints in the 1980s against Fr Tom Naughton, when later allegations were made.

Parishioner Philip Moore said: “I think he’s a nice man and I don’t think he should resign. He said he reported all the matters that came to him.”

Another parishioner, John Cotte, said: “I don’t see any reason why he should resign. Some people wouldn’t stop until they got the pope himself to resign.” One elderly woman said: “I do pity the innocent priests or anyone who’s innocent.”

Another man said the bishops “are doing the best they can. I know that some priests obviously need to be punished but we’re behind the priests and bishops.” Attending Mass with his child, he added: “I’m not looking for a scapegoat. I wouldn’t be looking for the bishop to resign straight off. I don’t want to come across as ‘no matter what priests do I’m going to back them’, but I’d have to know more.”

One Massgoer said he had heard Dr Murray was going to speak at St Joseph’s and wanted to attend. “The bishop did his best at the time but his best wasn’t good enough. He’s accepted that and I think that you have to admire that.”

The man, who said he had no connection with the church, added: “He could have done a quiet Mass today, he could have disappeared,” but, “unlike the church a lot of the time when they put their head down, at least he has kept the head up and met the public”.

What They Said

Nuala Downs

We’re not here to judge this life. God is here to judge us

Liam Cotter

I don’t see any reason why he should resign. Some people wouldn’t stop until they got  the pope himself to resign

Philip Moore

I think he’s a niceman and I don’t think he should resign. He said he reported all the
matters that came to him