The pair, who were both auxiliaries, were bishops during the period covered by the Murphy Comission (Bishop Ryan was in the diocese of Ferns and Bishop Field was in Dublin).
But instead of accepting their resignations the Pope has decided that Bishops Ryan and Fields will instead remain as Auxillary Bishops and will be assigned 'revised responsibilities within the diocese.'
Reassigning priests has led to a lot of trouble for the Church, but reassigning bishops is a whole new frontier. What are we to make of it?
Today an infuriated Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the press: 'The two bishops said, when announcing their resignation, that they hoped to bring peace and reconciliation to the victims. The pope's callous decision has done the opposite.'
I can't imagine what it must be like for a group of gravely wronged lay people to lay siege to an organization as large as the Vatican's, especially when their campaign to have the Church accept it's responsibility results in high-handed and enraging dismissals like the one the Pope just delivered them this morning.
It must hurt them, beneath all their anger and outrage, it must genuinely hurt them - I mean, emotionally and in their souls. Because through his bewildering decision the Pope has diminished their suffering.
In their joint Christmas statement, when they originally announced their decisions to retire, Bishops Walsh and Field said they hoped their resignations would 'help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologize to them.'
This morning the Pope made it clear they really didn't need to apologize for anything.