DUBLIN — A second Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland announced today he will resign in the wake of a damning investigation into decades of church cover-up of child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.
Bishop Jim Moriarty revealed his decision to priests and other church officials in his diocese of Kildare and Leithlin, southwest of Dublin. Church officials said Moriarty planned to travel soon to Rome to tender his resignation directly to Pope Benedict XVI, who has sole power to hire and fire bishops.
Moriarty said he accepted the investigators’ finding that he failed to react properly when told about abuse cases, particularly of one priest convicted of molesting girls in 1997. But he insisted that his own inaction reflected his colleagues’ poor communication and secrecy.
“It does not serve the truth to overstate my responsibility and authority within the archdiocese. Nor does it serve the truth to overlook the fact that the system of management and communications was seriously flawed,” Moriarty said in a prepared statement.
“However, with the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.”
Last week Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick resigned, becoming the first high-profile casualty of a government-ordered probe into the church’s failure to tell authorities about more than 170 suspected child abusers in the Dublin priesthood.
That 720-page report, published Nov. 26, examined the cases of 46 pedophile priests in detail. It found that church leaders in Dublin chronically shielded these priests from the law for decades until 1995, when growing public anger over the practice forced the church to begin handing its files on some cases to police.
Abuse victims welcomed today’s resignation announcement — but emphasized that they believe three other serving bishops named in the report must quit too.
“It is immensely distressing and insulting to survivors of sexual abuse to be forced to listen as one bishop after another justifies his position and attempts to hold on to power until he is shamed into resigning,” said Maeve Lewis, director of an abuse-victims support group called One in Four.
“The bishops do not seem to understand the depravity of the culture that prevailed, and the horror inflicted on countless children,” she said. “Ultimately, the resignations of all the auxiliary bishops named in the report are inevitable.”
Moriarty, who served as a Dublin auxiliary bishop from 1991 to 2002, initially insisted he’d done nothing wrong. “I do not consider that there are any grounds there upon which I should resign from office,” he said Dec. 10.
But Moriarty changed that line after senior church figures met Benedict in Rome that same day, and Murray announced his resignation.
The report found Moriarty guilty of inaction in the face of abuse complaints, particularly involving the Rev. Paul McGennis.
The investigators’ search of Dublin church records discovered that the church began keeping internal records of McGennis’ pedophilia as early as 1960, when he was caught taking pictures of naked girls.
The report found that Moriarty received renewed abuse reports against McGennis in 1993 but did nothing. McGennis was convicted in 1997 of abusing two girls and served half of an 18-month prison sentence.
The investigators determined that church leaders, including Moriarty, made no attempt to check its own past files on McGennis.
“Bishop Moriarty pointed out to the commission that he did not have access to the archives, but he could have asked the archbishop to conduct a search,” the report said.
Moriarty is 73, two years short of the church’s mandatory retirement age. Five other past Dublin bishops identified in the report have already retired, while several others are dead.
On the Net:
Dublin Archdiocese report, www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB09000504