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Storm after Pope allows bishops to retain jobs

Published 12/08/2010

Pope Benedict has delivered a severe blow to the authority of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin after he rejected the resignations of two bishops named in the Murphy Report into cover-ups of paedophile clerics.

The Pontiff's long-awaited decision in support of Dublin Auxiliary Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field unleashed a storm of furious reaction from victims of clerical abuse in Ireland and the US.

Dr Walsh and Bishop Field tendered their resignations to Rome eight months ago after Dr Martin called for all bishops named in the Murphy Report to take responsibility for their past actions.

Widespread dismay at the Papal decision will intensify protests by abuse groups next month during the Pope's official state visit to Scotland, England and Wales.

And the Vatican rebuff has dealt a heavy blow to Dr Martin, a veteran Vatican diplomat who was appointed in 2004 to lead the Catholic Church in Ireland through a growing storm of child-abuse scandals.

From the start he has clashed with predecessors who oversaw a culture of concealment of child molestation by transferring abusive priests to new parishes in Ireland, Britain and the US.

In a letter sent this week to priests and other Dublin Church officials, Dr Martin said: “Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Ireland confirmed last night that both bishops would remain as auxiliary bishops with new duties.

“This means that they will be available to administer confirmation in any part of the (Dublin) diocese in the coming year,” he added.

The Survivors of Child Abuse organisation said the decision to reject their resignations would do nothing to help victims.

One in Four described it as an “extraordinary move” that only served to raise questions about accountability in the Church.

And a US group — Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests — urged the Pope to fire both bishops.

Survivor Andrew Madden, who was abused as a child by paedophile priest Ivan Payne, said the announcement came as no surprise.

“Today's announcement also shows how utterly meaningless the instruction was that Pope Benedict gave to Irish bishops to identify steps that would bring healing to victims of clerical child sexual abuse,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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