Priest criticises Galway bishop


THE AUGUSTINIAN priest who walked in atonement from Cobh to Dublin for clerical child sex abuse victims a year ago says the Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan “must have known something” about the the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations in Dublin while there as auxiliary bishop between 1997 and 2005.

Beginning his walk on December 29th last year, Fr Michael Mernagh said he believed the Bishop of Cloyne Dr John Magee should step down after it emerged weeks earlier that child-protection measures in the diocese were “inadequate, even dangerous.”

This was revealed in a report by a Catholic agency, the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Since then Dr Magee has stood down from governance in the diocese, which is currently being investigated by the Murphy commission.

Fr Mernagh maintained a three- day vigil outside St Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, seat of Dr Magee, over Christmas 2008 in protest at the revelations.

He ended his 300km walk at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral on January 6th last, where he was applauded by a waiting crowd and embraced by Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin.

The archbishop described him then as “a man of principle. I respect anybody like that. I appreciate very much his gesture, but it’s his day and it’s a credit to him”.

Yesterday Fr Mernagh said: “If we are truly to atone it must be a public act and it must be a significant act and it must be an act of community.

“The old concept of atonement was for serious sin and sin in those days was actually considered to be a public matter committed by office holders. So they had to do penance in public.”

Dr Drennan, he said, “is claiming innocence, but this issue is greater than any individual bishop. This crime is an abomination, the most serious of crimes, so there must be no half-measures of sorrow or atonement. He must have known something.”

Fr Mernagh called for “a loud cry of protest” from the laity about what had been revealed in the Murphy report. There was a need “for more justified anger from the laity calling all priests and bishops to account.” The laity “must stand up and say No”.