The resignation of Bishop Eamonn Walsh has been accompanied by statements in which it was implied that the bishop was the victim of "guilt by association" and that both the Murphy report and the Ferns report concluded he acted proactively for the protection of children. It is being suggested we are making assumptions without even reading the Murphy report. At Christmas mass, I was told from the altar that some of us had to question our own "audacity" to judge others.

I have read the Murphy report, not once but a few times, and the reason I read it a few times was because I could not believe what I was reading.

There is one very important finding in the report and that is the difference between canon law and our state law. The Murphy report stated that "The Archdiocese of Dublin and other church authorities have repeatedly claimed to have been, prior to the late 1990s, on a learning curve in relation to the matter of child sexual abuse. Having completed its investigation, the commission does not accept the truth of such claims and assertions."

Being proactive under canon law is far removed from being proactive under state law.

The commission also found (1.15) that the Dublin archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets.

All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state.

Up to now the odds have been stacked against abused children, so please don't stack them any higher by giving incomplete and onesided overviews of any member of the clergy, whether they are "guilty by association" or not.

Tom Fennelly,

Firhouse, Co Dublin