Victims of clerical child sex abuse reacted furiously yesterday after the leader of the Irish Catholic Church backed the disgraced Bishop of Cloyne, John Magee, saying he should stay in office despite many calls for his resignation.
Cardinal Sean Brady said he did not believe that Newry-born Bishop Magee should resign over his mishandling of allegations against two priests, but should be held accountable to a new State investigation into child protection procedures in his diocese.
Cardinal Brady’s unexpected support appeared to have the approval of the Vatican, and it has provided a major boost for the besieged bishop, who has also been given the blessing of five other bishops in Ireland, including the Archbishop of Cashel, and Dermot Clifford, who is the leader of the Munster Church.
There was no immediate public reaction from Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin — the most senior churchman in the Republic — who last week made his unease about the conduct of Bishop Magee clear when he welcomed an Augustinian monk at the Pro-Cathedral after a ‘walk of atonement’ from Cloyne in support of the victims.
Last night, the victims’ support group, One in Four, stood firmly behind its earlier calls for Bishop Magee’s resignation.
It also appealed to the government to step in and ensure that children were protected in Cloyne.
“If the Church authorities are refusing to take responsibility, we call on the minister to step in and ensure that children are protected in Cloyne,” One in Four Director Maeve Lewis added.