Pope accepts resignation of Irish bishop who covered up abuse


Pope Benedict XVI today accepted the resignation Irish Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare, who admitted he failed to challenge the Irish church's policy of covering up the sel abuse of children by pedophile priests.

Moriarty becomes the third Irish bishop to resignl. Two other prelates have submitted their resignations as well, as the Vatican moves quickly to rid the Catholic Church of clergymen who covered up for priests who sexually abused children in their care for years.

Moriarty said he was stepping down because he realized that "renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past."

On Wednesday, the Pope gave a signal that action was coming: He promised "church action" to address the scandal, and the Vatican has said it would do everything in its power to bring justice to abusive priests and to protect children.

Moriarty, 73, offered to step down in December after admitting he didn't challenge the Dublin Archdiocese's past practice of concealing child-abuse complaints from police. He served as an auxiliary Dublin bishop from 1991 to 2002.

"The truth is that the long struggle of survivors to be heard and respected by church authorities has revealed a culture within the Church that many would simply describe as unchristian," Moriarty said in a statement Thursday. "This has been profoundly dispiriting for all who care about the church."

Two auxiliary Dublin bishops, Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field, are also awaiting the Pope's decision on their resignations.

All three bishops were identified last year in an Irish government-ordered investigation into decades of cover-ups of child-abusing clergy in the Dublin Archdiocese. The report found that all bishops until 1996 colluded to protect scores of pedophile priests from criminal prosecution.

The November report did not directly criticize Moriarty. But the bishop offered his resignation after accepting he should have taken personal responsibility for challenging the bishops' practice of keeping abuse complaints within the church.

In March, the Pope accepted the resignation of Irish Bishop John Magee, who was accused of mishandling complaints against priests in his diocese of Cloyne. In December, Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick stepped down after an investigation into child sex abuse by clergymen accused him of ignoring reports of crimes by priests in his diocese.

There have been demands for more Irish bishops to resign, including for the country's top prelate, Cardinal Sean Brady, who has been accused of helping to cover up activities of pedophile priests.

Brady has said he would resign if he was found to have endangered children by his actions.

On Thursday, Brady praised Moriarty for his contributions to the Irish church, said he would be missed and prayed for and wished him well.

Moriarty said that in stepping down, he hoped to honor the victims who courageously came forward and said he hoped his gesture would help the church renew itself and reform.

Here is the complete text of his statement:

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has today formally accepted my resignation as Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, which I offered on 23rd December, in the wake of the Murphy Report.

The decision to offer my 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. I served as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1991 until my appointment to this diocese in 2002. I 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.

I know that words of apology are not enough. Before speaking on other matters, it is important to be able to report that, learning from the past, the Irish Church now has excellent child safeguarding procedures in place. Kildare & Leighlin Diocese has fully subscribed to the definitive 'Standards and Guidance' document published by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in 2008. This is exemplified in the policy document we subsequently produced ourselves, in our training programmes undergone by priests and lay people, many of the latter having volunteered to act as 'designated person' in their parish, our use of Garda vetting and our co-operation with civil and Church audits. We remain keenly aware of the need for constant vigilance and updating to ensure that the Church is the safest possible place for children.

When I announced before Christmas that I was offering my resignation to the Holy Father, I explained what I hoped it might achieve - 'I hope it honours the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned'.