“The Bishop of Dromore was right to resign. Others should take note” & related articles

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The Catholic Heraldposted

When a bishop loses the confidence of his flock, the sooner he goes the better

The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, has resigned his see. Dromore is the diocese that covers the counties of Antrim, Armagh and Down in Northern Ireland. The Bishop made a statement, published on the diocesan website, explaining his dealings with the late Malachy Finnegan, an abusive priest, prior to a BBC investigation into the case. Later, as the Irish Times reports, the Bishop decided to step down with immediate effect because it was clear that his decision to say the funeral Mass for Finnegan back in 2002 was the wrong decision and had caused hurt to the victims of the abuser, as well as a loss of confidence in the people of the diocese, some of whom were now wishing their children not to be confirmed by him.

Usually one congratulates a Bishop on his elevation to a see. In this case, the opposite is true. Dr McAreavey should be congratulated on doing the right thing, and doing it so swiftly. When a Bishop loses the confidence of his flock, it is time to go. How can he lead a diocese when some of the people no longer wish to be led by him? How can he be a focus for unity in such circumstances? Unable to do the job for which he was appointed, resignation is the best thing for him and the diocese.

Moreover, Dr McAreavey seems to have grasped the essential point about the toxicity of child abusers. No one has accused the Bishop of misbehaviour, but he clearly made a misjudgement in celebrating that funeral, for Finnegan by the time of his death was no longer a priest in good standing. (It is to be noted that the late Malachy Finnegan is no longer referred to as “Father’ having, by his actions, lost the right to that honorific.) Clearly Bishop McAreavey sees that trying to defend his decision of celebrating the funeral would in fact be attempting to defend the indefensible, so there is no recourse to the usual arguments along the lines of “At that time…” or appeals to “context”. Instead the Bishop has put his hand up and admitted a misjudgement. That is the right thing to do. His courage is to be commended. He has put the needs of the flock, and the survivors of abuse, first.

While the right decision has been made in Ireland, on the other side of the world, another Bishop – Juan Barros of Osorno – is still in office. Witnesses have claimed that he was in the room when Fr Karadima behaved in a most inappropriate way. Bishop Barros has denied allegations of wrongdoing. However, a large segment of his own diocese has made it clear that they do not want him. A considerable number of Chilean bishops seem to think the same. Barros has twice offered his resignation, but it has been rejected by Rome.

What does this tell us? It tells us that the Church in Ireland realises that child abuse is an abominable thing, and that the way the Church deals with it will have a huge impact on the Church’s credibility. Hence the swift response in Dromore. But the difference between Chile and Ireland tells us that the global Church has yet to adopt a uniform approach. They need to do this fast, and they could do a lot worse than following what has been done in Dromore.


John McAreavey resigns as Bishop of Dromore in wake of criticism

Calls for him to step down from his role intensified this week.

John McAreavey.

John McAreavey.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

JOHN MCAREAVEY IS to resign as the Catholic Bishop of Dromore.

It comes in the wake of concerns raised by parents of children whose Confirmation he was due to preside over later this year.

It was reported earlier this year by the BBC Spotlight programme that McAreavey had officiated at the funeral mass of a priest accused by 12 people of sexual abuse.

“Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect,” the outgoing bishop said in a statement provided by his solicitor to the BBC.

Fr Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002, was a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1976.

The abuse claims against him were detailed in the BBC Spotlight programme in February.

At the time, Bishop McAreavey told the programme:

“The first allegation against Malachy Finnegan came to light in 1994 some seven years after he left St. Colman’s College.

The second allegation came in 1998 and was not related to his tenure at St. Colman’s. No further allegations emerged until after his death in January 2002.

He said that he had made an “error” in celebrating Finnegan’s funeral.

The school began removing images of the priest from its building last year after the school’s Board of Governors was informed that the Diocese had reached a settlement with one of the 12 victims, the BBC reported.

A Spotlight reporter revealed earlier this week that Bishop McAreavey had celebrated a mass alongside Finnegan in 2000.

That prompted further calls for him to resign from his role.

John McAreavey was ordained a priest in 1973 and was ordained Bishop of Dromore in 1999.


Dr John McAreavey one of north’s best-known bishops

The Irish News

02 March 2018     01:00

Dr John McAreavey has resigned as Bishop of Dromore. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker


BANBRIDGE-BORN Dr John McAreavey is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known Catholic bishops.

Ordained as a priest in 1973, the 69-year-old is a former teacher and professor of Canon Law. A former head of Armagh Regional Marriage Tribunal, he has been involved in the pastoral care of engaged and married couples throughout his ministry.

A fluent Irish speaker, he was ordained as Bishop of Dromore in 1999 at the relatively young age of 50.

In late 2010, he officiated at the wedding of his nephew John McAreavey to Michaela Harte, daughter of Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Just weeks later, in January 2011, Mrs McAreavey was murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius. Dr McAreavey later celebrated her funeral.

In November 2012, Dr McAreavey took a temporary break from administering Dromore diocese. At said at the time he wanted to have a “period of personal renewal”.

He added that Mrs McAreavey’s murder had been particularly traumatic.

“The trauma of it all affected all of us. Those of us who were close to that tragedy were clearly affected by it,” he said.

Dr McAreavey returned to administering the diocese in late 2013. Now, just weeks after revelations emerged about paedophile priest Malachy Finegan, Dr McAreavey has taken the decision to resign.


Bishop resigns following row over role at paedophile priest’s funeral

The Irish Independent                                 independent.ie

Friday 02 March 2018     2:30 AM

Michael Donnelly

The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey

The Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey

The Bishop of Dromore has resigned following the controversy over his officiating at a paedophile priest’s funeral.

Bishop Dr John McAreavey stepped down yesterday after weeks of anger when it emerged that he said Requiem Mass for Fr Malachy Finnegan, a paedophile and former president at St Colman’s College Newry.

In a statement released by his solicitors Arthur J Downey yesterday, the bishop said his resignation would take “immediate effect”.

In the simple two-line statement, 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.


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 making “an error of judgment” by officiating at the 2002 funeral of the paedophile teacher.

Dr McAreavey described the crimes of Finnegan 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.

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

Fr Finnegan served at St Colman’s from 1967 to 1971 and was a teacher from 1973 to 1976.

He was president of the college from 1976 to 1987.

Between 1994 and 2016, the 12 allegations of abuse were made against him.

Irish Independent


More victims of St Coleman’s paedophile priest Fr Finnegan come forward

The Belfast Telegraph

01 March 2018

Father Malachy Finnegan

More victims of paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan have come forward after a BBC investigation into about his abuses.

Last month a BBC Spotlight programme revealed Father Finnegan, a former teacher at St Coleman’s College in Newry, had been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people.

The programme reported the allegations were reported to police in 1996, but he was not interviewed before his death in 2002.

He was employed in the college from 1967 until 1987, serving as a teacher from 1973 until 1976, and as president of the college from 1976 until 1987.

The Diocese of Dromore said it had been aware of the 12 allegations against its former teacher, with the first coming to light in 1994, and a second allegation being made in 1998.

No further allegations were made until after his death.

Appearing on Nolan Live on Wednesday, the BBC’s Mandy McAuley, who was responsible for the the Spotlight programme, said she had been contacted by a number of people since the programme aired.

“A woman rang me the other night and she said ‘I think my son was abused’, and she said for the first time in 30 years thing are falling into place, things suddenly make sense,” she said.

“And there are so many people ringing saying ‘I can remember the feeling of terror when he came into the first-year study room, praying he wouldn’t pick me out’.”

Host Nolan also said his radio programme had been contacted by people who had been pupils of Father Finnegan.

Giving extended testimony on the programme were Pat Faloon and Paul Gilmore, who had both been part of the original Spotlight programme, and Dermot Nangle, who had come forward since the programme aired.

Mr Faloon said he had been abused between the ages of 10 and 17.

“He tried to make it sound like he loved me and I could trust him, and I was getting attention from a highly-regarded adult in the community,” he said.

“At that time I had just been diagnosed with diabetes, and he was talking to me about diabetes and asking me questions about it. It was all very complicated to me as a 10-year-old having diabetes.”

“It took me away from living those teenage years, it took me away from socialising with children of that age. I noticed throughout I wasn’t having friends like other children my age in Hilltown were having,” he added.

On his experience, Dermot Nangle said: “It’s hard to say. At the time I never really thought much of it. I put it out of my head and just went on.”

On the response since the story broke he said: “A lot of it is denial really. I find it astonishing that they are even in this day and age trying to deny it.

“Especially the school, I am more disappointed with the school itself. The only now are trying to airbrush him out.”

In a statement, the board of governors of St Colman’s College said: “The Board of Governors condemns in the strongest possible terms the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Malachy Finnegan when he was in the employment of the College over 30 years ago. The Board of Governors is devastated that any pupil who was entrusted to the care of St. Colman’s College should ever have suffered abuse.

“The Board of Governors is aware that while this abuse took place over three decades ago, victims and their families carry its impact with them throughout their lives.”

The school said after it was informed a case by a victim of Fr Finnegan was settled in October 2017 his photograph was removed from display in the school.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


Bishop John McAreavey resigns after criticism

BBC N. Ireland

1 March 2018

The Bishop of Dromore has resigned amid controversy over celebrating Mass alongside a priest he knew was a paedophile.

The move was confirmed by his solicitor, Arthur J Downey and Company.

Bishop John McAreavey acknowledged that media reports had “disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield”.

The late Fr Malachy Finnegan has been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people.

There have been calls for the bishop to resign, with parishioners telling the BBC they would no longer set foot in the parochial house in Hilltown , County Down.

Fr Finnegan, a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1976 and president of the school from 1976 to 1987, is also accused of a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils.

On Friday, the PSNI said its public protection branch has set up a dedicated team to investigate complaints of clerical and institutional abuse involving Malachy Finnegan.

In a statement, it added that there is a legal obligation for anyone who has information about a serious crime to bring it to the attention of the police.

Malachy Finnegan died in 2002 and Bishop McAreavey has previously apologised for conducting his funeral Mass.

Details of the abuse claims against Fr Finnegan were revealed in a BBC Spotlight investigation in February.

Fr Finnegan was never prosecuted for sexual abuse, but allegations against him were reviewed by the National Board for Safeguarding Children – a clerical abuse watchdog set up by the Catholic Church.

Sean Faloon who was first abused by Fr Malachy Finnegan when he was a ten-year-old altar boy gave his reaction to the Bishops resignation on Thursday night:

“As soon as I heard the news I could feel a lot of weight leaving my shoulders, my legs went light and then filled with energy, I was really, really relieved.

“But it’s just the first stepping stone. I think it’s the right decision for once by Bishop McAreavey to step down.

“It’s not only me who doesn’t trust what he’s been doing for the Diocese. The whole Diocese now has a large amount of distrust.”

Mr Faloon also said that he was not happy with the way the Diocese of Dromore interpreted a review of Fr Finnegan’s case by the Catholic Church’s watchdog group set up to look into clerical abuse.

“When you are a survivor of serious sexual abuse like myself you never get full closure however the closer you get to that door closing helps,” he said.

“I hope we can get as close to closure as soon as possible.”

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said it was the Diocese of Down and Connor that had interpreted the review of Fr Finnegan’s case.


Bishop McAreavy facing calls to resign

BBC News   N.  Ireland

1 March 2018


There have been calls for the Bishop of Dromore to resign amid claims he celebrated Mass alongside a priest he knew was a paedophile.

Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002, has been accused of sex abuse by 12 people.

Fr Finnegan, a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1976, is also accused of a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils.

Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, has previously apologised for conducting Fr Finnegan’s funeral Mass.

Last month, Bishop McAreavey, who was chair of the board of governors at the school, told parishioners in the Dromore diocese that he first became aware of allegations against Fr Finnegan in 1994.

St Colman's College in Newry

Image caption Fr Malachy Finnegan taught at St Colman’s College in Newry, County Armagh, and was later its preside

He said the bishop at that time, Francis Brooks, asked him to liaise with a victim and his family in a pastoral role.

On Wednesday, Spotlight NI reporter Mandy McAuley told the BBC’s Nolan Live programme that six years later, Fr Finnegan was allowed to help Bishop McAreavey celebrate a Mass to mark the 150th anniversary of the Clonduff parish.

‘Unannounced attendance’

She said the paedophile priest was vested – robed in garments – at the Mass in 2000, although he was not the main celebrant.

Speaking on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show on Thursday, one of Fr Finnegan’s victims, Sean Faloon, said his position was untenable.

“I’m not calling for him to resign, I’m telling him he’s unfit to be in the position he’s in – he has to resign,” Mr Faloon said.

Sean Faloon

Image caption Sean Faloon says Bishop McAreavy’s position is untenable

Another victim, Paul Gilmore, said Bishop McAreavey’s position had been “untenable for years”.

“All the rolling tide of revelations over the past two weeks have just reinforced that,” said Mr Gilmore. “If he has a scrap of decency, he has to quit.”

A spokesperson for the Catholic diocese of Dromore said Bishop McAreavey had been “very surprised” at Fr Finnegan’s “unannounced attendance” at the Mass.

It is understood that because Fr Finnegan’s ill health made him increasingly difficult to manage, a last-minute decision was taken not to confront him beforehand.

The spokesperson said the bishop visited Fr Finnegan a few days later and remonstrated with him for attending the Mass.

Never prosecuted

Parishioners have told the BBC Spotlight team they will no longer set foot in the parochial house in Hilltown and that priests will no longer stay there overnight.

Recently, the Catholic diocese of Dromore settled one of the claims against Fr Finnegan.

Fr Finnegan was never prosecuted for sexual abuse, but allegations against him were reviewed by the National Board for Safeguarding Children – a clerical abuse watchdog set up by the Catholic Church.

In a statement, the Bishop of Dromore said that during an independent audit in 2011, he “specifically” asked the watchdog to examine the cases involving Fr Finnegan.

A statement was published on St Colman’s College’s website saying its board of governors “condemns in the strongest possible terms the physical, sexual and emotional abuse inflicted by Malachy Finnegan when he was in the employment of the college over 30 years ago”.

The governors said they were “devastated that any pupil who was entrusted to the care of St Colman’s College should ever have suffered abuse”.

“When informed in October 2017, that a case had been settled by the Diocese of Dromore, the board of governors instructed that Malachy Finnegan’s image be removed from photographs which were on display in the college,” the statement added.

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