Languages
Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bishop Donal Murray resignation: Q&A

Irish priest Dr Donal Murray has resigned as Bishop of Limerick.

BBC News Online examines how he came under increasing pressure in recent weeks for the way he dealt with a paedophile priest during his time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin.

WHO IS HE?

Bishop Murray
Dr Donal Murray has resigned as Bishop of Limerick

Donal Murray was born in Dublin in 1940. He was ordained in 1966, having gained a doctorate in theology.

After an academic career which included lecturing in University College Dublin on Catechetics and medical ethics, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1982.

At that time, he was the youngest member of the Irish Catholic hierarchy.

He was installed as Bishop of Limerick in March 1996.

WHY HAS HE RESIGNED?

A damning report into child abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese from 1975 to 2004 criticised the Catholic Church hierarchy there for a cover up.

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, known as the Murphy report, laid bare a culture of concealment where church leaders prioritised the protection of their own institution above that of vulnerable children in their care.

Tom Naughton
Fr Tom Naughton was behind a litany of sex abuse

It found that during Dr Murray's time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996, he handled a number of complaints badly.

The report described his failure to investigate one allegation as "inexcusable".

For example, he did not deal properly with the suspicions and concerns that were expressed to him in relation to one priest, Fr Tom Naughton.

When, a short time later, factual evidence of Naughton's abusing emerged in another parish, it found Dr Murray's failure to reinvestigate the earlier suspicions was "inexcusable".

Parents who complained to Dr Murray about Naughton said he dismissed their concerns.

In May 1998, Naughton pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault on three boys. He was jailed for three years, reduced on appeal by six months.

On Wednesday, Naughton, now aged 78, was jailed for three years for abusing an altar boy between 1982 and 1984 in the parish of Valleymount in County Wicklow.

The judge said the "premeditated" abuse was "shocking and horrific". He said Naughton had taken advantage of his position of trust.

WHAT HAVE THOSE INVOLVED IN THE CASE BEEN SAYING?

Mervyn Rundle, who was abused by Naughton, has called for a criminal investigation into Dr Murray's response to the abuse allegations at the time.

"When are the guards (Irish police) going to act against these guys?" he told the Irish Times.

Retired Garda sergeant John Brennan, who sought to have Naughton removed from Valleymount in 1984 following complaints by parents, told the paper: "It was (Naughton's) superiors who, aware of this weakness, sent him around to other places, and I think they shouldn't be allowed at this stage to resign or retire.

"They should be the subject of a criminal investigation. If there is neglect and evidence of a cover-up, it shouldn't be a question of somebody resigning. They should be the subject of a criminal charge."

WHAT HAVE HIS COLLEAGUES BEEN SAYING?

A former doctoral student of Pope Benedict, Father Vincent Twomey, said it was a "scandal" that bishops criticised in the Murphy report had not resigned sooner.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin discussed the report with the Pope

Speaking on Sunday, the theologian, who is still close to the Pope, said delays in resignations were causing damage to the church.

Catholic Primate of all-Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady had stopped short of saying that Dr Murray should resign.

"Bishop Donal Murray has been in contact with me, as you know he is considering his position and hopes to be in a position to comment soon and I'm confident Bishop Donal will do the right thing," he said.

Current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, told RTE: "If I am unhappy with answers... I don't want to be sitting at meetings with people who have not responded to a very serious situation.

"Everyone should stand up and take responsibility for what they did."

He has said that both Cardinal Brady and he were strongly convinced that the Irish Catholic hierarchy needs to re-establish strong leadership.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said he believed Dr Murray had "serious questions to answer", adding that he believed he would resign if faced with a similar challenge to his "ability to deal with these matters with credibility and integrity".

However, Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe argued that calls for Dr Murray to resign were based on a misreading of the Murphy report and that a "public trial" was taking place, motivated by the desire by some to get "a head on a plate".

WHAT HAS DR MURRAY SAID FOLLOWING THE REPORT'S PUBLICATION?

Dr Murray said he was "acutely aware of the pain and anguish" experienced since the report was published and had begun engaging with the people and priests of his diocese about whether his ministry was a "hindrance or help".

In a letter read out during Masses on the weekend of 28/29 November, 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."

IS THE RESIGNATION OF A BISHOP UNPRECEDENTED?

In March, Bishop John Magee, the Newry, County Down-born Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, "stepped aside".

Bishop John Magee
Dr John Magee stepped aside as Bishop of Cloyne in March

Dr Magee faced many calls for resignation for failing to properly address allegations of clerical sex abuse within his County Cork diocese.

Technically, it was not a resignation, although in previous high-profile episcopal departures, there has been no doubt that a resignation was offered to the Pope.

Eamonn Casey resigned as Bishop of Galway in 1992 after an affair with an American divorcee, and Brendan Comiskey, then Bishop of Ferns, presented his resignation to the Vatican in 2002 following claims that he had mishandled allegations of child abuse by Fr Sean Fortune.



Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific