Thursday, April 22, 2010; 11:07 AM
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty, the Vatican said Thursday, bringing to three the number of Irish bishops who have stepped down due to the sexual abuse crisis.
Moriarty tendered his resignation in December, after an official report named him among Church leaders in the Dublin archdiocese who had covered up cases of child sex abuse by priests for 30 years.
He was auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1991 until his appointment as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in 2002.
Hundreds of cases of sexual and physical abuse of youths in recent decades by priests have come to light in Europe and the United States in the last month as disclosures encourage long-silent victims to finally go public with their complaints.
Pope Benedict, under criticism from victims for not taking more energetic steps to counter the sex abuse scandal, pledged Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church would take action.
In a statement released in Ireland, Moriarty said he was part of the Dublin hierarchy “prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented.”
“I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture,” he said. “I apologize to all survivors and their families.”
Two other bishops named in the report have also offered to resign, but the Vatican has not yet announced any decision in their cases.
Cardinal Sean Brady, the primate of Ireland, has come under heavy pressure to resign because he was involved in having abuse victims sign secrecy agreements decades ago. He has said he would not step down.
In Germany, Augsburg Bishop Walter Mixa offered his resignation Wednesday evening after admitting he physically abused children while a parish priest decades ago.
(Writing by Tom Heneghan, Editing by Lin Noueihed)