Vatican accepts resignation of Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin


BISHOP MORIARTY RESIGNS:POPE BENEDICT XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin.

He becomes the third Irish bishop to resign in the last five months, following the resignations of Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick last December and Bishop John Magee of Cloyne last month.

In a one-line communique, the Holy See said the pope was accepting Bishop Moriarty’s resignation in conformity with article 401.2 of the Code of Canon Law.

Promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1984, this article reads simply: “A diocesan bishop who has become unable to fulfil his office because of ill-health or some other grave cause is earnestly required to present his resignation from office.” There is no secret about the “other grave cause” which prompted Bishop Moriarty to offer his resignation just before Christmas, namely his role as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin, a role highlighted by the Murphy report.

In a statement issued yesterday, Bishop Moriarty said his resignation “was the most difficult decision of my ministry. I did not anticipate resigning when I first read the Murphy report because I was not directly criticised.

“However, the Murphy report covers far more than what individual bishops did or did not do. Renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past.”

Having served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1991 to 2002, he felt he “was part of the governance of the archdiocese prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented. Again, I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop I should have challenged the prevailing culture. Once more, I apologise to all survivors and their families.” Referring to the pope’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland of last month, Bishop Moriarty points out the pope calls for “a new vision to inspire present and future generations”.

The bishop said this “must involve an open, transparent, accountable Church”, adding “walking away from our Church is not an option” and Catholics should “work to reform” it from within.

Bishop Moriarty’s resignation prompted a tribute from the Archbishop of Armagh and president of the Irish Bishop’s Conference Cardinal Seán Brady: “Bishop Moriarty’s vision and innovative approach to his work in the bishops’ conference will be missed, as will his great pastoral wisdom and experience.”

Vatican senior spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told The Irish Times he had no comment to make, pointing out the bishop’s own statement gives a comprehensive explanation. Nor would Fr Lombardi speculate about the fate of Dublin auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field, whose resignations, originally offered on Christmas Eve, have yet to be accepted by the pope.

Vatican observers feel that while the Holy See is extremely reluctant to appear to have bowed to pressure from the media or public opinion, papal acceptance of the resignations of Bishop Field and Bishop Walsh will be confirmed very shortly.

Bishop Moriarty discussed his situation with the pope and other Irish bishops in the Vatican in February.

Bishops Field and Walsh were Dublin auxiliaries for 13 and 20 years respectively. Another of the auxiliaries named in the Murphy report, Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway may come under further pressure to resign. Until now, he has argued that for him to do so “would be an injustice”.