Irish abuse: the first resignation

17 December 2009

by Gregg Ryan, Ireland Correspondent

THE Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, has resigned, it was announced on Thursday. The move comes a fortnight after the publication of a report on child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese. Dr Murray had served as an auxiliary bishop during the time covered by the commission into the scandal. The report describes his conduct in one case as “inexcusable”.

News of the announcement, a one-line statement which read: “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick”, has prompted renewed speculation about the fate of four other serving bishops who were auxiliaries in Dublin at some time during the 30 years covered by the commission’s report.

Dr Murray addressed a congregation in Limerick’s RC Cathedral on Thursday immediately after his decision to step down became known. His fate was sealed last week when the RC Primate of Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said that he would have resigned in such circumstances, and that he was sure Dr Murray “would do the right thing”.

The resignation comes amid strong speculation that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is facing significant changes in its structures and governance.

This follows an announcement by the Vatican press office that Pope Benedict XVI is to write a pastoral letter to Roman Catholics in Ireland, in the wake of the report by the Irish Commission of Investigation on the handling of child abuse by

After a meeting between Pope Benedict and Ireland’s most senior RC bishops — Cardinal Brady and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin — the Pope was said to be very distressed by the findings in the report (News, 11 December).

A Vatican spokesman said: “The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal, and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland.”

In Dublin, where the Roman Catholic bishops were holding their December conference at Maynooth, normal business was suspended and the meeting was devoted entirely to the fallout from the report.

Irish bishops have met the four survivor groups representing abused children, and have pledged funding for their support. They will also be meeting heads of religious congregations.


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