Embattled Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray was facing mounting pressure to resign last night after a dramatic intervention by Cardinal Seán Brady, who said he expected Murray would “do the right thing” in considering his position.
In an interview with RTE’s This Week programme yesterday, Brady, who is the Catholic primate of All Ireland, also indicated other bishops identified in the Murphy report may have to resign on foot of its findings.
He revealed both he and Dublin archbishop Diarmuid Martin will be travelling to Rome this week to brief Pope Benedict directly on the findings of the report, but stressed that bishops criticised in the report should be given time to explain what happened from their perspective. But Brady said if he was made aware of a situation whereby his failure to act had led children to be abused, he would resign.
In a thinly veiled criticism of some of his fellow clerics, he said some people would “like to let the dust settle” on the Murphy report.
He said now was a time for “leadership and accountability” and action within the Church, which he acknowledged is facing a “terrible crisis”. Asked what he would like Murray to do, he replied: “I’m confident he will do the right thing.”
Brady’s intervention will significantly increase the pressure on Murray, who has asked for time to consider his position, with one source suggesting that his position is now “all but untenable”. A spokesman for Murray said he had been in contact with Brady throughout last week and had been fully appraised of Brady’s approach to the matter. However, he was not aware of any plans for Murray to issue a further statement in the coming days.
Murray told a recent radio interviewer: “If I felt my ministry was not the best – was not good -- for the Diocese of Limerick, I wouldn’t have to be forced.”
There was some speculation yesterday that Murray may even release a statement announcing his resignation at today’s Sunday masses in Limerick, although this could not be confirmed last night.
Brady also said church authorities would be working with minister for children Barry Andrews and others to ensure the church observes “the highest standards of child safeguarding” throughout the country.
Despite this commitment, 19 out of 26 dioceses around the country are continuing to use priests as their designated child protection “delegates”, so it is left to them to deal directly with potentially traumatised abuse victims rather than independently trained and appointed specialists in the area.
Following the revelation, head of the Catholic church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children, Ian Elliott, acknowledged to the Sunday Tribune there is a need for “competent” trained professionals to be placed in such roles.