Prelate expresses sorrow at hurt over comments


THE BISHOP of Killaloe Willie Walsh has expressed deep sorrow at hurt he may have caused abuse victims by comments he made in a radio programme last Monday, while refusing to comment further on what he felt Bishop Donal Murray should do in neighbouring Limerick diocese.

Speaking to The Irish Timeslast night, in a sometimes emotional interview, Bishop Walsh said of last Monday’s radio interview: “I know in retrospect my judgment was not good in the situation.” He continued: “I did what felt true to me at the time. Obviously I have to accept the criticisms made.”

He had received phone calls on Monday after the interview on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.

“A share of them were complimentary, and a number were from victims around the country, with one from the diocese. In all cases I rang back. In all cases they accepted the call and apology. It was distressing. The last thing I want to do is hurt people.”

He felt that it was “probably the single sentence in the news bulletins” from his interview “which probably grated so much”.

He continued: “I realise now that somehow my interview caused a lot of offence and maybe I used words which weren’t appropriate, but it’s not in my nature to make a judgment on anyone. I am too well aware of my own frailties. I accept the fact that I may not have put the case well.”

He deeply regretted “hurt caused victims. Whatever may be said on my own behalf, I always tried to treat victims with respect and sympathy”.

He accepted the findings of the Dublin diocesan report “totally”, but as to whether Bishop Murray should stay on in Limerick he said “he has stated his position, and I’m not going to comment on that again. Ultimately it’s up to him or to Rome to make that decision.”

He had read most of the report and “nearly all” of it that was relevant to Bishop Murray.

He had also “talked to someone who has a detailed knowledge of Bishop Murray’s history . . . and as I saw it there were nine cases involving Bishop Murray .

“Five he handled well. He was only involved in a sixth one peripherally. In the other two he didn’t receive the original complaint . . . and he had accepted in 2002 that he didn’t go back to check” in the Valleymount, Co Wicklow, case.

When he referred to “a public trial” in the RTÉ interview, he was “trying to say that in looking for a resignation, maybe it was fair to take a man’s whole career into account. But the last thing I want to do is cause more hurt.”

He believed the Dublin report “will have an enormous impact on the church in Ireland. I think we have seriously . . . our credibility has been seriously diminished. I think people’s trust is seriously broken”.

It was “particularly sad for those so loyal to realise how very sinful the church has been. It is appalling really. On the other hand, you can never say the truth damages”.

He believed “structures are in place to ensure as far as is humanly possible that such things will never happen again. We will have to probe deeper to establish how in God’s name this has happened.

“It is so removed from the gospel. We have to go back to a Christ-centred church.”

He felt that “certainly we are heading for serious change in Irish Catholicism. The power we wielded is gone and I am delighted it’s gone, and we can never again be given that sort of power. It served us and the cause of the gospel very badly. This is certainly a watershed and it is going to bring about very significant change”.