In a move that has stunned critics Pope Benedict XVI has rejected the resignations of two Dublin auxiliary bishops.
Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh had both tendered their resignations in 2009 in the wake of the Murphy report into clerical child abuse.
Both men had come under intense pressure because they had served as bishops during the period investigated by the Murphy Commission into clerical child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
The Murphy Commission in Ireland found that sexual abuse was 'endemic' in boys' institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their original victims had been sworn to secrecy.
'Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops,' Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said in a letter to priests of the Archdiocese reported in The Irish Catholic.
The two men are to be assigned revised responsibilities within the archdiocese, according to Doctor Martin.
Announcing their resignations in December, the two auxiliary bishops said: 'It is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologize to them.'
Now their gesture of reconciliation has been halted by the pontiff. Archbishop Martin said the two men are 'to be assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese.'
Doctor Walsh was appointed auxiliary bishop in Dublin in April 1990, while Doctor Field was appointed in September, 1997.
Gary O’Sullivan of The Irish Catholic says that the decision by the Pope has come as a surprise.
'Well I think it’s quite a turnaround, this was not expected,' he said. 'It was expected that the resignations would be accepted in time. I think for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin this is really the Vatican saying ‘you got this wrong,' he added.