Bishop Hegarty: Voice of the Faithful targets Irish bishop

A new Irish bishop has been targeted by Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic lobbying group with branches in Ireland and the U.S.

Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty who was Bishop of Raphoe in Donegal from 1982 - 1994. is being asked to explain how he ignored the activities of child rapist Father Eugene Greene who served as a priest in Raphoe during that period.

The statement from VOTF reads: "On December 9th, 2009, in response to the publication of the Murphy report on clerical child sex abuse in Dublin archdiocese, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference announced: We are shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognise that this indicates a culture that was widespread in the Church."

"During the period 1982-1994 Bishop Seamus Hegarty was bishop of Raphoe.  The prolific child rapist Eugene Greene served as a priest in Raphoe in that period.  Gardai did not become aware of his crimes against twenty-six young men until 1997.  However, there is compelling evidence, revealed in 2008 in the book 'Breaking the Silence' that his criminal activities were known to Raphoe clergy at least as early as 1976.

"When Bishop Hegarty approved the Irish bishops' statement of December 9th,
was he admitting that the 'widespread' cover up of clerical child sex abuse extended to the diocese of Raphoe during his term of office there? Or does he deny having had any knowledge during that period of Greene's abusive proclivities and activities?

"Bishop Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin has tendered his resignation on the grounds that he should have challenged the culture of cover-up that prevailed in the Dublin archdiocese when he was an auxiliary bishop there.  All bishops who failed that challenge should now resign also.  Is Bishop Hegarty one such, or was he inexplicably unaware of the cover up culture that prevailed among bishops in Ireland during the period 1975-1997?" the statement adds.

The new campaign will worry many church figures who were hoping that the resignation of four bishops from the Dublin archdiocese would end the issue of Bishops who were complicit with child sex abusers. That however, looks like it will not be the case.

Bishop Hegarty is well known in the U.S. for his work as head of the Irish Bishops task force on immigration. In that capacity he recently visited the U.S. to meet with immigrant groups and Irish American politicians.