Page last updated at 14:33 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009

Bishop 'has questions to answer'

Church candles
A letter reflecting on the abuse report was read to congregations

A bishop criticised in a report on the Dublin Archdiocese's handling of child abuse by priests has "serious questions to answer, a fellow bishop has said.

Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray's response to one allegation of child abuse by a priest during his time in Dublin was "inexcusable", it said.

Amid mounting calls for him to step down, he insisted he never failed to act on any allegations of child abuse.

Dromore bishop John McAreavey believes he will be considering his position.

"All I can say is that any bishop today around whom there are serious questions in relation to the care and protection of children has serious questions to answer," said Dr McAreavey.

"I'm sure Bishop Murray is reflecting on that - I know that he has taken the view that he should remain but I think he will be thinking very seriously about that.

"I'm not sure I can say more."

Dr McAreavey said he believed he would resign if faced with a similar challenge to his "ability to deal with these matters with credibility and integrity".

On Sunday, Bishop Murray told a congregation in Limerick city that the question of whether he should resign depended on whether priests and people in the diocese felt his presence was "a help or a hindrance".

Statement read out to Dromore parishes
A statement was read at masses across Northern Ireland

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin found that during his time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996, Bishop Murray handled a number of complaints badly and described his failure to investigate one allegation as inexcusable.

In a letter read out at Masses throughout the Limerick Diocese this weekend, he said: "As I look back on that time, I ask myself many questions, especially about the three cases in which the report criticises me.

"At no time did I, as an auxiliary bishop of Dublin, receive an allegation of sexual abuse and fail to act.

"When an allegation of sexual abuse of children by a priest was brought to my attention, I responded promptly and conscientiously and in each case notified the Archbishop and Diocesan authorities and co-operated fully with them.

"I never deliberately or knowingly sought to cover up or withhold information brought to my attention.

"There were, as the report notes, occasions when roles/responsibilities were not clear or where I did not have full information concerning cases in which I was asked to become involved."

Meanwhile, a statement expressing distress at clerical child abuse in Dublin has been read at some Masses in Northern Ireland.

The statement said the heinous crimes against children described in the report were "appalling and distressing".

The report released on Thursday investigated how Church and state authorities handled allegations of child abuse against 46 priests made by 320 children. Eleven priests were convicted of sexual assaults on children.

Some offending priests were shifted from parish to parish, leaving them free to abuse again.

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