Prelate reluctant to remain if thought a 'divisive figure'


BISHOP MURRAY RESPONSE:THE BISHOP of Limerick Donal Murray says he is not looking to save his position and does not wish to remain on if he is going to be a “divisive figure”.

In a statement issued yesterday, in response to comments made by Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin, a spokesman for Bishop Murray said the Limerick Bishop had given a “thorough public response” after the publication of the Dublin diocesan report.

Speaking on RTÉ on Tuesday night, Archbishop Martin said he was writing to all auxiliary bishops named in the report as he is not satisfied with some of their responses so far. He said bishops shouldn’t look for support in their own diocese as the report refers specifically to the Archdiocese of Dublin.

A spokesman for Bishop Murray confirmed last night that the bishop had received a letter from Archbishop Martin yesterday.He also revealed that Bishop Murray texted Archbishop Martin a message of support last Sunday.

In his interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time, Archbishop Martin said he received phone calls from two of his fellow prelates since the publication of the Dublin report.

Bishop Murray’s spokesman said full consideration was being given to the opinions of all members of the public including those in the Dublin Archdiocese and particularly survivors of clerical child sex abuse during Bishop Murray’s time there as an auxiliary bishop.

“Bishop Murray is not looking to save his position; he has merely entered into a process of engagement with the people and priests of his diocese as to whether his ministry is a hindrance or help to the diocese,” said the spokesman.

In an interview published in the Limerick Leader, which called in an editorial for Bishop Murray’s resignation, the bishop insisted he was not involved in any cover up. Moreover, neither did he think the combination of cases he dealt with between 1982 and 1996 amount to an unforgivable pattern of negligence.

“There is nothing to be said in favour of covering up. Reading the report it would appear so . . . I’d like to hear their side of it but I can’t because most of them are dead,” Bishop Murray told the newspaper.

The most high-profile of Bishop Murray’s cases referred to in the report was that involving Fr Tom Naughton. The report found that the bishop did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to Fr Naughton.

When a short time later factual evidence of Fr Naughton’s abusing emerged in another parish, Bishop Murray’s failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was inexcusable, the report noted.

In the interview with the Limerick Leader, Bishop Murray again emphasised that he had no specific allegation to work with in the case involving Fr Naughton. He said his conscience was clear that he was not involved in a cover-up and his failings resulted from “naivety and inexperience”.

Bishop Murray said the listening process he is engaged in with his parishioners as regards his future position in the diocese would take a couple of weeks but he could not say if he expects to say Mass in in St John’s Cathedral this Christmas Day.

“I have no urge to hold on to my job, I’m not here defending my good job. What I do want is whatever decision I make that the truth is heard . . .”

When asked by the newspaper if he agreed with his local supporters that he was being made a sacrificial lamb, Bishop Murray replied: “If that’s the case, fine. But I’m not going to stand up and fight for my job. If I was going to be a divisive figure here, I don’t want to stay.”