Vatican accepts Irish bishop’s resignation

5 have submitted resignations;
2 have been accepted by the Vatican.

But who’s counting?


Bishop John Magee of the diocese of Cloyne said he tendered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on March 9.

“I have been informed today that it has been accepted, and as I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time,” Magee said in a statement posted on the diocese Web site.

Five Irish bishops have tendered their resignations since December in relation to the scandal, according to Martin Long, spokesman for the Irish Bishops’ Conference. The Vatican has now accepted two of them — that of Bishop Donald Murray on December 17, and Magee’s.

Why did Magee put off resigning? Why was it accepted so quickly? And why have the other resignations not been accepted?


The church’s Cloyne report found that Magee and his diocesan deputies fielded a range of complaints from parishioners about two priests from 1995 onward — but told the police nothing until 2003 and little thereafter. The report said Cloyne church authorities appeared to be solely concerned about helping the two priests, not protecting the children of the diocese.

One priest, who was accused of molesting a younger priest, was encouraged by Magee to resign. But the investigation found that the bishop shielded the abuser’s identity from police — and considered such concealment “normal practice.”

The other priest, a career guidance counselor in a convent school, was accused by several teenage girls and grown women of molesting or raping them since 1995. One complaint came from a woman who had a consensual sexual relationship with the priest for a year — then saw him develop an intimate relationship with her teenage son.

The church has declined to identify the two priests publicly by name. Neither has faced any criminal charges.

Magee, who was born in the Northern Ireland border town of Newry, served as a private secretary to three successive popes — Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II— from 1969 to 1982. He then served as the pope’s master of ceremonies until 1987.

Ken Macdonald, a former prosecutor, writes in The Times:

[E]xpressions of remorse are perhaps best served by awareness, including an awareness of self.

Pope Benedict showed neither [in last weekend’s letter of apology to the Catholics of Ireland]. He had nothing to say about the complicit behaviour of the Vatican over the years, or of his continued shielding of a former Cardinal of Boston from the American courts. He didn’t address his own directive that secrecy must be maintained in church investigations into sex crimes. And his remarkable analysis was accompanied by an unseemly swipe at Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council, whose tender compassions and renewal were, apparently, “far from easy” to implement.

Yet it is no surprise that Benedict, who has spent decades trying to roll back reform from the heart of the Church, should find his perfect villain other than in the institution of the Church itself; and it is no surprise that he should find it in liberalism.

But child rape was not invented in the 1960s and it was not the result of a changing moral climate. Sad to say, paedophilia and abuse have always been around. Benedict may comfort himself by blaming priestly crimes on the decline of clericalism and the scourge of social freedom, but for most of us the opposite is true: it is only a stronger secularism and the flock’s dimming fear that have finally defeated the Church’s tireless efforts to keep civil society and its sharp means of justice away from these multiple crimes.

This post is already too long, but the news doesn’t stop. Reuters:

The Regensburg diocese in Pope Benedict’s native Bavaria confirmed new allegations of child sexual abuse against four priests and two nuns on Monday, in the latest cases damaging the Catholic Church’s image in Germany.

The diocese vowed to hand any concrete criminal evidence to the public prosecutor, even though the statute of limitations has expired. Those suspected of sexual abuse will be suspended pending the investigation, it added. … The nuns suffer from dementia and are barely responsive, it added.

Also in Regensburg, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller came under fire for a sermon on Saturday that appeared to compare critical media coverage of the abuse scandal in Germany to Nazi propaganda campaigns against the church.

Speaking at the 100-year anniversary of the German Catholic Women’s League, Mueller said that over 1,000 local Catholics, mostly women, had demonstrated against Nazi injustice in 1941 and such courage was needed again to counter today’s media.

“Now we are again witnessing a campaign against the church,” he said. “The aim is to undermine the church’s credibility.”

Addendum. And now there’s the Dutch Catholic Church echoing an all too familiar denial. (Thanks to a reader for the, um, lead.)

Speaking on the TV programme Pauw & Witteman on Tuesday evening, [the former head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands, Cardinal Ad Simonis,] said – in German – “wir haben es nicht gewusst” and added “I know that is a very dangerous remark and heavily loaded, but it’s true.”

The remark in question, meaning “we didn’t know about it” and referring to the Holocaust, was repeatedly used by Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Cardinal Simonis said many things were hidden from the church leaders because a bishop does not have direct authority over the various orders of clergy within the church. Cases of abuse would have been dealt with at a different level. In his 38 years as a bishop, he added, he had been aware of no more than ten cases of abuse.

The cardinal said he was “extremely shocked” and “ashamed” by the recent flood of complaints about sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions. The church’s own abuse helpline has received 1100 reactions so far. It’s not known how many of these are formal complaints.

Deni-ability is an institutional strategic choice.

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