Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quit now or be fired: final ultimatum to prelates
Quit now or be fired: final ultimatum to prelates
Archbishop will ask Vatican to act if quartet don't resign

Saturday December 19 2009

THE Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin will seek to have four bishops fired by the Vatican if they refuse to step down over the Murphy report into child sex abuse cases in Dublin.

The dramatic development emerged as one of the embattled bishops, Martin Drennan of Galway, accused Dublin's Archbishop Martin of calling his integrity into question.

Bishop Drennan, one of the four former auxiliary bishops who served in Dublin, is under fierce pressure to resign to show "collective responsibility" for the abuse scandals.

The three other bishops facing calls to go are Dublin auxiliaries, Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, and the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Jim Moriarty, a previous auxiliary in Dublin.

Archbishop Martin last night refused to make a public comment on his tense relations with Bishop Drennan.

But sources told the Irish Independent that if the four bishops -- who say they did no wrong -- do not stand down voluntarily on the principle of collective responsibility, Archbishop Martin will petition the Congregation of Bishops in Rome to fire them.

The prospect of their resignations moved a step closer yesterday after school principals demanded all four should step down as patrons of hundreds of primary schools.

The Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPPN) also wants the four bishops to be accountable for their actions -- or inactions -- in discharging their child protection responsibilities.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen also waded into the row, firmly backing Archbishop Martin's stance and saying it was "a time for leadership and accountability" from the Catholic Church.

Mr Cowen said: "The resignation of Bishop Murray is a welcome indication that those who are in positions of leadership and responsibility in the Church are facing up to their responsibility in the light of the very clear findings of the Murphy Commission."

Despite the developments, Bishop Drennan mounted a robust defence of his position yesterday, hitting back at a call by Archbishop Martin to take collective responsibility for the report into systematic cover-up of abuse complaints from victims of priests.

Interpreting a letter from Archbishop Martin as seeking his resignation as head of the Galway diocese, Bishop Drennan said his conscience was clear and he had no intention of resigning from office.


Earlier yesterday, he hinted he might quit, telling a local radio station he was "not sure" if he would resign. Later he claimed he had received phone calls of support following the interview.

There was growing speculation last night that the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr Jim Moriarty may take the decision to step down in the face of grassroots anger at his handling of sex abuse cases.

Some parents in Co Carlow have suggested they will remove their children from religious sacraments officiated by the bishop, a move that might make his post untenable.

Bishop Moriarty has said he does not consider that there are any grounds on which he should resign. But several parents in one parish had decided not to allow their children to attend a Confirmation ceremony if Bishop Moriarty was officiating at it.

Last night a senior Dublin priest openly sided with Archbishop Martin and said that more resignations of bishops named in the Murphy report were "inevitable."

Fr Joe Mullen, chairman of the Dublin Council of Priests, said: "If they don't resign or if this moment that we're in doesn't move in a way that seems to be fuelled by forgiveness and justice and a sense of recognition of hurt and hope for healing, then maybe we'll all be retiring, if not resigning".

In two interviews yesterday, Bishop Drennan pointed out that nothing negative had been said about him in the Murphy report on clerical sex abuse.


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