Belfast Telegraph

Bishop McAreavey resignation over paedophile priest outrage 'right thing to do,' says MLA

By Michael Donnelly

Bishop Dr John McAreavey who is at the centre of a controversy over his officiating at a paedophile priest's funeral has resigned as the Co Down Bishop of Dromore.

And in a statement released by his solicitors Arthur J Downey, late Thursday afternoon the Bishop said his resignation is to take "immediate effect".

In the simple two-line statement released through the Banbridge solicitors, Dr McAreavey said: "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the Diocese and further afield I have decided to resign with immediate effect.

"I shall make further comment in due course".

Last month he met parents from a Co Down primary school, who along with families from other schools, said they did not want him to officiate at their children's confirmation because he said Requiem Mass for Fr Malachy Finnegan, a paedophile and former president at St Colman's College Newry.

Even before the parents of children from St Patrick's Primary School, Hilltown, Carrick Primary School, Burren and St Patrick's Mayobridge, voiced their concerns, Bishop McAreavey admitted he'd made "an error of judgement" by officiating at the 2002 funeral of the paedophile teacher whose actions he described as "abhorrent, inexcusable and indefensible".

The Bishop, who has also spoken to a victim of Fr Finnegan, said that his decision, made when he was a priest, to say the Mass "was the wrong one".

Allegations about the disgraced teacher and cleric were highlighted in a recent BBC Spotlight programme, although the first allegation against him came to light in 1994.

Father Malachy Finnegan died in 2002, and has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people.

He worked in St Colman's College in Newry from 1967 until 1976 and later became the school's president.

SDLP MLA Sinead Bradley said the bishop's resignation was the "right thing to do".

“I welcome the decision by Bishop McAreavey to resign today. This was the right thing to do," she said.

“My thoughts are primarily with the victims but also with the wider community that has been deeply hurt.”

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