Pope Benedict rejects Irish bishop’s resignation

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In a move that has stunned his critics the Pope has rejected the resignations of Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh


Published Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 9:41 AM

Updated Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 2:46 PM


IrishCentral.com Staff Writer


 In a move that has stunned critics Pope Benedict XVI has rejected the resignations of two Dublin auxiliary bishops.

Bishop Raymond Field and Bishop Eamonn Walsh had both tendered their resignations in 2009 in the wake of the Murphy report into clerical child abuse.

Both men had come under intense pressure because they had served as bishops during the period investigated by the Murphy Commission into clerical child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

The Murphy Commission in Ireland found that sexual abuse was ‘endemic’ in boys’ institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their original victims had been sworn to secrecy.

‘Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops,’ Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said in a letter to priests of the Archdiocese reported in The Irish Catholic.

The two men are to be assigned revised responsibilities within the archdiocese, according to Doctor Martin.

Announcing their resignations in December, the two auxiliary bishops said: ‘It is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologize to them.’

Now their gesture of reconciliation has been halted by the pontiff. Archbishop Martin said the two men are ‘to be assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese.’

Doctor Walsh was appointed auxiliary bishop in Dublin in April 1990, while Doctor Field was appointed in September, 1997.

Gary O’Sullivan of The Irish Catholic says that the decision by the Pope has come as a surprise.

‘Well I think it’s quite a turnaround, this was not expected,’ he said. ‘It was expected that the resignations would be accepted in time. I think for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin this is really the Vatican saying ‘you got this wrong,’ he added.


Sensation as Vatican overrules Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Reinstates two bishops after he had forced their resignations

Published Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 12:31 PM
Updated Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 2:44 PM


Editor of the Irish Catholic



Dublin abuse victim Andrew Madden has said he is “not surprised” at the Pope’s decision not to accept the resignations of two Dublin bishops despite the lack of confidence shown in them by their Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. The two bishops resigned on Christmas Eve last after coming under immense pressure from media and the public in general not to mention their own Archbishop.

While many Irish American Catholics will be angry at the Church for essentially stirring up this whole abuse debate again with this controversial decision, there is a lot to chew on in this latest development. 

On one side of the argument is the camp that says an injustice was being done to the two bishops to satisfy a lynch-mob in the wake of the Murphy report.  This argument is strengthened by the fact that the Health Services Executive (HSE) here was dragged kicking and screaming to admit that over 25 children died in its care in the last 10 years.  However, the other camp will see this as the Vatican protecting its own and slapping down the liberal reforming bishop Diarmuid Martin who has such public support he could be the only person in the country with enough public goodwill to run for the Presidency next year!

There is a lot to back up the thinking that Archbishop Martin ran afoul of the Vatican for his very public dressing down of fellow bishops.

For instance, Archbishop Diarmuid  Martin came back from the Irish Bishops’ meeting with Pope Benedict last February, his first instinct was to meet and brief survivors. 

One of the survivors of abuse in Dublin, indeed the main whistle blower on the cover-up in Dublin of gross sexual misconduct by priests and mismanagement by Bishops, Andrew Madden, told waiting media that Archbishop Martin “was a changed man” since his return from Rome.  The implication was that Archbishop Martin had got a dressing down for his very public appearances here calling on fellow bishops to be accountable and to take responsibility.

Wednesday’s news that Pope Benedict has decided not to accept the resignations of the Archbishop’s two remaining auxiliary bishops appears to verify Madden’s statement.  Rome does not agree with Dr Diarmuid Martin’s approach of shoot first and ask questions later.  The fact that the Pope has not accepted the resignations, means that Dr Martin will have to sit across the table from two men he refused to express confidence in last December.

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