Bishop of Limerick says he is 'reflecting on decision'


The Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray told parishioners today that he is “reflecting on the decision he now has to make” in a statement read out at masses across the diocese.

The statement was read at masses across Limerick yesterday evening and all day today  as speculation grows that Dr Murray is to resign.

Calls have been made for Bishop Murray’s resignation since the publication of the Murphy report which criticised his handling of complaints made against clergymen who were later found to have been involved in the sexual abuse of children.

Bishop Murray’s statement followed a call by Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady yesterday for accountability among bishops.

Asked what he would do if it were found that children had been abused as a result of any failing on his part, the Archbishop of Armagh said he would stand down. “I would remember that the abuse of children is a very serious crime in civil and canon law. It’s also a very grave sin,” he said. “If I found myself in a situation where I was aware that my failure to act had allowed or meant other children were abused, well then I think I would resign.”

Dr Brady said he would be travelling to the Vatican with Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin this week to discuss the findings of the report with Pope Benedict.

In the statement read out at masses today, Bishop Murray said he is “acutely aware” of the pain and anguish that has been experienced since the publication of the Murphy Report. He also repeated his call for prayers for survivors of abuse and victims families.

“Following the publication of the Murphy Report Bishop Murray has been listening to all voices. Especially to survivors of abuse, the people of the Archdiocese of Dublin, the people and priests of Limerick Diocese, as well as all members of the public who have contacted him by phone, mail and email,” read the statement.

“Bishop Murray is acutely aware of the pain and anguish that has been experienced and expressed in the last week. Bishop Murray thanks all those who have responded to him. He is particular grateful for the guidance from survivors of abuse, and for the many and varying pieces of advice that he has received and for the messages of support.

He is reflecting on the decision that he now has to make and asks for your continued prayers especially over the coming week. Bishop Murray also asks us to continue to pray especially for people whose trust was betrayed when they were children so that they may find healing, peace and closure,” it concluded.

Dr Brady said yesterday it was only fair that time should be given to bishops to hear their side of the situation "before prescribing remedies".

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, the said the church would be working closely with the Minister for Children Barry Andrews “to ensure that the church observes the highest standards of child safeguarding in every area”. He said the church hierarchy was anxious to implement the best possible standards as soon as possible. "This cannot be put on the long finger," he said.

He said Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray "was considering his position" and would make a statement presently. "I'm confident that Bishop Donal will do the right thing," he said.

Dr Martin has said he was not satisfied with the response of some of the bishops named in the Dublin diocesan report. Dr Brady said the Dublin archbishop has written to the bishops and auxiliaries criticised in the report asking that they offer explanations for the commission's findings.

"Perhaps we should wait and see what those replies are," the Cardinal said. "I think it's only fair that we should wait to hear their side of the situation before prescribing remedies."

Asked about the calls for further inquiries, Dr Brady said the welfare of survivors of abuse had to be taken into consideration and what was best for child protection throughout the State - for which he said the State had primary responsibility.

"Whatever is best for child protecting, bring it on. We hope that what were are doing at the moment is best for protecting - in other words, training people up and down our parishes . . . to ensure people know their responsibilities . . . that children will be safe at all times."

He said the Church's child protection policies had to be known, implemented, and audited. "That's the way we will give accountability and win back the confidence of people that we are sincere about this and determined that whatever it takes to safeguard children will be done."