13 Nov 2010

Limerick Bishop implicated in Dublin clergy abuse won't resign, gives lame excuse for why he failed to protect children

Limerick Leader - Ireland November 26, 2009

Bishop of Limerick won't resign over child sexual abuse cover-up
By Anne Sheridan
BISHOP of Limerick Donal Murray has said he does not intend to resign, after being implicated in a report which details how members of the Dublin Archdiocese handled complaints of child sexual abuse.

Speaking at the Social Service Centre on Henry Street this Thursday evening, Bishop Murray, who served 14 years as auxiliary bishop in the Dublin Archdiocese from 1982 to 1996, denied that he failed to act when allegations of sexual abuse were brought to his attention.

"I wish to state that I never deliberately or knowingly sought to cover up or withhold information brought to my attention. There were, as the report notes, occasions when roles/responsibilities were not clear or where I did not have full information concerning cases in which I was asked to become involved," said Bishop Murray.

However, had he succeeded in deriving more information into these cases "it might have been possible to prevent some of the dreadful suffering of child abuse", he said.

"I very much wish I had been able to do so. It is a matter of the greatest regret to me if any action or omission of mine contributed to the suffering of children who were abused," he said.

"I tried my best but didn't succeed, and not succeeding is a kind of failure," he told reporters.

He said just three or four cases were brought to his attention during that period, and that information was passed on to the Archbishop, but not the gardai.

The last complaint was made to him nearly five years before he moved to Limerick in 1996, and he said as Bishop of Limerick he couldn't follow up cases in the Dublin diocese.

The commission was critical, in particular, of Bishop Murray's handling of complaints about Fr Tom Naughton.

In June this year, Naughton pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault in relation to a complainant from the Wicklow parish of Valleymount. The commission said it was aware of complaints of child sexual abuse against Naughton by more than 20 named people.

In hindsight, he said he should have reported these complaints to the gardai, and admitted there was an over-emphasis on protecting the good name of people within the church.

Certainly, he said, the church could be accused or charged with "recklessly endangering children" if any criminal charges are to be brought.

When asked if the church has been "destroyed" by recent allegations, he replied that it has been "seriously damaged" but he still has faith in Christianity.

Bishop Murray said he has not read all of the 700 page report, but said of what he has read to date it has made for "very painful" reading.

He said the publication of the report by the commission and its revelations has personally been "a very stressful time" for him.

Also present at the briefing was Aoife Walsh, child protection training co-ordinator in the Limerick diocese, who said she has "nothing but support for Bishop Murray", having worked together to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.

The full statement from Bishop Murray is now available online at http://www.limerickdiocese.org/report_statement.pdf

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