Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Pope refuses bishops' resignation

Bishop Eamonn Walsh's resignation was rejected by the Vatican

Two Irish Catholic bishops whose resignations over a child sex abuse report were rejected by the Vatican will still be able to administer confirmation, it has emerged.

Auxiliary bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field will be assigned revised responsibilities in Dublin despite offering to stand down on Christmas Eve in the wake of a damning state inquiry.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has written to priests across the capital informing them Pope Benedict XVI had not accepted the pair's decision to quit.

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Ireland confirmed both would remain as auxiliary bishops with new duties. "This means that they will be available to administer confirmation in any part of the diocese (Dublin) in the coming year," he said.

While a spokeswoman for Archbishop Martin confirmed the contents of the letter, the Vatican has not commented on the decision.

The Murphy Inquiry, based on a sample 46 priests, revealed a catalogue of paedophilia and subsequent cover-ups over three decades because the Catholic hierarchy was obsessed with secrecy and was effectively granted immunity by police.

A damaging rift appeared in Ireland's Catholic hierarchy as Archbishop Martin - who had opened secret church files to investigators - publicly called on clergy implicated in the state inquiry to step down.

Bishops Walsh and Field finally bowed to weeks of intense criticism and pressure on Christmas Eve, announcing at Midnight Mass services that they planned to quit their posts as auxiliaries in the archdiocese.

Dr Walsh has been an auxiliary bishop in Dublin since 1990. Before that, he was secretary to the Archbishop of Dublin from 1985 and would have held key positions in the archdiocese for much of the period covered by the Murphy commission report.

Meanwhile, Dr Field, a qualified barrister and auxiliary bishop in Dublin since 1997, was found not to have fully informed a parish priest about abuse concerns against a colleague.

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