Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bishop of Limerick remains in Rome discussing future

Bishop of Limerick remains in Rome discussing future
Sat, Dec 12, 2009

The Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray remains in Rome awaiting developments concerning his future, his spokesman said in a statement released this morning.

It is the public utterance from Dr Murray since he left for the Vatican last Sunday to discuss his future in the hierarchy.

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

The pressure increased on Dr Murray last weekend when Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady said he “would do the right thing”.

The Irish Catholic Church faces major reorganisation following yesterday’s meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and senior church figures.

Following his meeting in the Vatican with Ireland’s Catholic Primate Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, a statement from Pope Benedict said “the Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the [Murphy] report, including questions concerning the governance of local church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children.”

Pope Benedict would be issuing a pastoral letter “to the faithful of Ireland” in which he will “clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation,” the statement said.

Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by the papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza and the heads of major Vatican congregations. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Dr Martin said the pastoral letter may well call for “a very significant reorganisation of the church in Ireland”.

Dr Martin confirmed he had written to Bishop Dermot O’Mahony, one of those bishops mentioned in the report, adding: “I asked him not to carry out Confirmations in the coming year, to distance himself from the International Pilgrimage Trust, which he has done, and I asked that he would not be part of the diocesan administration in any way.”

However, Dr Martin added: “It is not just a question of heads rolling, I have said very clearly people should assume their own responsibility . . . It is good to see that has begun with people doing it in public, that is a new thing for the church in Ireland.”

Cardinal Brady said he and Dr Martin had had a “good meeting” with the pope, and drew attention to the strong language of the Vatican statement. He said he was very saddened to “be back here again to discuss the painful question of child sexual abuse”.

The Vatican statement yesterday said Pope Benedict was “deeply disturbed and distressed” by the Murphy report contents. He wished “once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families”.

He shared “the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the church.”

Last night the retired professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, Dr Vincent Twomey, said it was rare for a pope to address a local church through a pastoral letter and that it was “very significant”.

Dr Twomey, who was a doctoral student of the pope for many years at Regensburg University in Germany, said such letters were sent at times “of major crisis for both the church and the society” to whom they were addressed.

© 2009

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