Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pope orders leaders to Rome for crisis meeting

Pope orders leaders to Rome for crisis meeting
By John Cooney
Tuesday December 08 2009

BISHOP of Limerick Donal Murray is expected to give his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI tomorrow as Ireland's two church leaders prepare to fly out to attend a crisis meeting in Rome on Friday.

The German Pontiff summoned Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin to the Vatican to discuss the findings of the Dublin Archdiocese clerical child sex abuse report.

The confirmation of next Friday as the date for the special audience with the Pope between Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, came only hours after embattled Bishop Murray arrived in Rome.

Last night, senior Vatican sources said that Bishop Murray was seeking a meeting with the Congregation of Bishops, which oversees the appointment and resignations of bishops.


But the sources indicated that this meeting would not likely take place until tomorrow as today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

This means that the Irish Conference of Bishops will gather in Maynooth tomorrow to discuss the future of nine other bishops criticised in the report not yet knowing Bishop Murray's fate.

On foot of Archbishop Martin's demands for explanations of the failure of 10 existing or former Dublin auxiliary bishops, including Bishop Murray, and for them to consider their positions, a retired Dublin auxiliary, Dermot O'Mahony, became the first casualty of the fall-out when he resigned yesterday.

He stepped down as president of the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, which takes mentally handicapped children to Lourdes. It also emerged yesterday that Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin intend to fly to Rome on Thursday evening after the outcome of the critical Maynooth meeting, with possibly more resignations of bishops pending.

The seriousness with which the Vatican is now paying to "the sorrowful situation" of the Irish Church was underlined by the news that the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Guiseppe Leanza, will accompany the two Irish prelates to Rome and may also sit in at some of Maynooth discussions.

A further indication of the importance attached by Pope Benedict to Friday's meeting was the announcement yesterday that it will be attended by a number of senior Vatican officials, including the tough-talking American Archbishop William J Levada, who heads the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which investigates clerical child abuse cases.

While in Rome, Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin will meet the Congregation for Bishops to review suitable candidates to replace Bishop Murray and any other existing or former Dublin auxiliary bishops who may also resign.


The arrival in Rome of Bishop Murray attracted the attention of the resident Vatican press corps. Until now, it had shown less interest in the Dublin report than last May's Ryan report.

In a brief statement delivered yesterday, Pope Benedict said he had invited Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin to Friday's talks to provide "information and an evaluation".

Calls for Bishop Murray's resignation intensified on Saturday when Cardinal Sean Brady said he was confident Bishop Murray "would do the right thing".

The Cardinal has given the public the impression that this was an initiative of the two Irish church leaders, who had gone to Rome after the Ryan report.

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