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John McAreavey defends Bishop uncle over Fr Finnegan controversy

John McAreavey, the widower of Michaela Harte, has issued a statement in support of his uncle Bishop John McAreavey.

Bishop John McAreavey announced he was standing down from his position on Thursday amid growing controversy around the Catholic Church's handing of paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan.

Dr McAreavey, the Bishop of Dromore, had known about allegations of child abuse against the disgraced cleric as far back as the mid-1990s.

Bishop McAreavey conducted Finnegan's funeral in 2002.

The allegations have come to light following a BBC Spotlight programme, which also looked at the Church's response.

In a statement put out through his Twitter feed, Mr McAreavey also made reference to criticism he had received for remarrying five years after his late wife Michaela was murdered on their honymoon in Mauritius.

Mr McAreavey wrote: "In the past 7 years, I've lived with people questioning my decision to seek life and love again, I've been accused of unspeakable acts, I've endured injustice of a great magnitude... but to see my uncle, John McAreavey vilified in recent times like he has been, causes great pain and anger."

"Uncle John has dedicated his life to God and to serving others. He has always acted with people's best intentions at heart.

"To see some media use vulnerable people to achieve a 'demonstration of perceived power' is both callous and vindictive. We need to care for people by listening and trying to right the wrongs of the past, not using their plight for personal gain.

"Celebrating his resignation as some sort of 'win' does not help victims.

"My prayer is that the innocent victims of the horrendous abuse caused by Malachy Finnegan will receive the healing they truly deserve."

A statement by Bishop McAreavey on his resignation was read out to parishioners at Mass on Sunday.

In it he stated he said he had "wrestled" with the decision to resign, and "following recent media coverage which has disturbed and upset many people, I decided on Thursday to resign".

"I would ask you first and foremost to continue to hold in your prayers those who have been abused and all who are suffering at this time," he said.

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