Catholic bishops speak in support of Magee


A NUMBER of Catholic bishops have spoken out in support of Bishop John Magee staying on in Cloyne diocese after being contacted by The Irish Times yesterday.

Responding to a query on whether Bishop Magee should resign, sent by e-mail to the bishops of all 26 Catholic dioceses on the island, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel said: "The key person to assist with the inquiry into the diocese of Cloyne, which was announced this week by Minister Barry Andrews, is Bishop John Magee."

Bishop Magee, he said, "has publicly committed himself to implement best practice safeguarding children procedures with the guidance of the independent National Board (NBSC). His continuing role as bishop of the diocese underpins his accountability in this regard."

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said: "What is more important is that each diocese continue to work towards providing a safe and secure environment for all children."

He continued: "Given the acknowledgement this week by Minister Andrews and the national board that acceptable procedures have now been put in place in the Diocese of Cloyne, it would not seem unreasonable that Bishop Magee be given the opportunity to work closely with the national board and, therefore, to be accountable, in order to address these crucial issues."

Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly said: "The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church published a statement on December 19th reporting that the Diocese of Cloyne's procedures were now much improved, and Bishop Magee is on record as being determined to see these improvements through and I support that."

Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby said: "I don't think he should resign, for three reasons. He should be given the opportunity to put the proper structures in place.

"The NBSC said it was satisfied with how he was implementing its recommendations and the HSE, because of his co-operation, didn't feel it warranted to refer the diocese to the Dublin Commission."

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said: "If Bishop Magee can establish trust then he can usefully help the diocese out of the difficulty in which it finds itself. The big challenge for the church [on child protection practices] is consistency.

"It is not easy. It is hugely important to establish confidence on this issue. If it was myself I would have to judge whether I had the confidence of the priests and the people."

Bishop of Ossory Séamus Freeman felt it was not appropriate to comment pending the outcome "of the process established by the Minister for Children".

Bishop Séamus Hegarty of Derry felt similarly as he is not in possession of the full facts.

A spokeswoman for Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin repeated that, "Bishop Magee should make a decision in the best interests of child protection in his diocese".

Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady repeated: "As I already publicly stated, Wednesday's report by Minister Andrews raises important issues for all those with responsibility for safeguarding children.

"I have been heartened by Minister Andrews's recognition that strides have been taken by the diocese of Cloyne to improve how child protection matters there are handled."

Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Colm O'Reilly said: "I have already publicly stated that the views of the national board on the systems currently in place in the Diocese of Cloyne will assist Bishop Magee in taking decisions in the best interests of safeguarding children".

Bishop Willie Walsh, who had already called on Bishop Magee to reflect on his position, is away, as is Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones. Other bishops contacted did not respond but may be abroad or away from their offices as can be usual at this time of year.