Dr James Moriarty: resignation will be accepted by the Pope

The resignation of the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Dr James Moriarty, will be accepted by Pope Benedict and he is expected to step down from his post by Easter or soon afterwards.

However, uncertainty remains over whether the Pope will accept the resignations of two Dublin auxiliary bishops, Ray Field and Eamonn Walsh, prompting speculation that they may continue indefinitely in their posts.

Maeve Lewis, executive director of abuse survivors group One in Four, claims that during last Friday's "disappointing" meeting with Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, he suggested that all of the episcopal resignations on foot of the Murphy report may not be accepted by the Pope.

She told the Sunday Tribune that Dr Martin also refused to say whether the Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, had his support.

She said he pointed out that, even after new abuse guidelines were introduced in 1996, all complaints were not handled properly in the Dublin archdiocese.

This is seen as a thinly-veiled reference to fact that Drennan, who is refusing to step down, took up his post as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin in September 1997.

In a statement posted on the Kildare and Leighlin website last night, Moriarty said that during last week's visit by the Catholic bishops to Rome, he had a "private meeting" with the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who is dealing with his resignation.

"The acceptance of my offer of resignation is proceeding. It is not a question of 'if' but 'when'," he stated. "It will not happen immediately but should not go too far beyond Easter."

He went on to state that the gathering in Rome was a "unique event" and "certainly a worthwhile dialogue at the highest level".

Maeve Lewis told the Sunday Tribune that Moriarty was the only bishop to accept that he should have challenged the prevailing culture in the Dublin archdiocese.

"Archbishop Martin told us [on Friday] that it was possible that the resignations were not going to be accepted by the Pope. I would be very concerned if what he says is true," she said.

Bishops Field and Murray were unavailable to clarify the situation on their resignations last week. Speaking to reporters after Friday's meeting, Martin acknowledged there were differences among the bishops, but refused to comment on Drennan's position.

"There are times when my views are different to others," he said. "On the other hand, I would say it's a long time since the relations between the archbishop of Dublin and the archbishop of Armagh have been as good."