Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lucia Why the Holy Father not accept the resignations of two Irish Bishops

One of NZC's commenters, LeftRightOut, wants to know why Pope Benedict did not accept the resignations of two bishops "implicated by the Murphy Commission".  He says, "At least these two men attempted to do the [honourable] thing, Benedict will deny them that. Why?" He then quotes an apparently damning BBC article:

Pope Benedict XVI has not accepted the resignations of two Irish bishops who resigned at Christmas. Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field announced their resignations on Christmas Eve 2009. The pair, who were both auxiliary bishops of Dublin, said they hoped their resignations would help bring peace to the victims of sexual abuse. They were bishops during the period covered by the Murphy Commission which examined abuse in the Dublin diocese. ~ BBC

However, all is not as it seems. Three things are true. 1) The men did attempt to resign, but not willingly. 2) They were bishops during the period covered by the Murphy Report, but were not criticised in the report. and 3) The pope did reject their resignations, but was asked to by the bishops themselves.

Neither of the two auxiliaries ever wanted to resign. Neither had been criticized in the Murphy Report, and they felt unfairly targeted by the media and some victims’ groups. It was Archbishop Martin’s apparent refusal to give them his full support that eventually pushed them to resign. A number of sources close to the two men have told Catholic World Report that, feeling “unjustly treated,” both prepared detailed dossiers to present to the Holy See detailing why their resignations ought not to be accepted. Both men, sources claim, were concerned “that if their resignations were accepted the impression would be given that they had done something wrong.”

At the same time an intensive letter-writing campaign was launched and dozens of clerics wrote to the Vatican to protest the way the two long-serving prelates had been treated by Archbishop Martin.

Their campaign for vindication has been successful and it is hard to interpret the move in a way that is not embarrassing for Archbishop Martin. To put it bluntly: the Holy See had the stark choice between the archbishop and his two auxiliaries, and it chose the latter. ~ Catholic World Report

So the damning BBC article didn't give all the facts, thus perpetuating the impression that the Holy Father enables child abuse - when nothing could be further from the truth.

Related link: Atrocious attack on the Holy Father by Andrew Sullivan

17 comment(s):

Andrei said...

fixed broken link

ropata said...

The papers want to sell papers, and a good moral panic is tons of fun, especially when it gives the public a chance to poke the church's eye. To the circus with those baby eating christians!

Bearhunter said...

You really have no idea how this has hurt the Catholic Church in Ireland do you? The damage has been immense and the support for Archbishop Martin has been strong from the people, rather than the clergy, although he has the support of a good number of bishops too. Martin was willing to put his hand up and apologise that the church did not do enough to prevent the abuse of children, a rarity among the Irish hierarchy.

Andrei said...

We do know how the Catholic Church in Ireland and elsewhere has been damaged.

The whole point is to damage the Church as much as possible.

In New Zealand every year there are cases of secular teachers having inappropriate contact with students - and nobody goes after their head teachers, or the school board let alone the Minister of education over these things.

The real origin of these attacks against people who had nothing to do with these abuses is obvious - don't fall for distortions originated by the prince of lies.

ZenTiger said...

More to the point, there has been no serious analysis of physical and sexual child abuse from secular institutions covering from 1920 to 1970 and then giving the findings from that anywhere near the same level of publicity in these times, which would also have to include mounting campaigns against people not even directly involved in the scandal.

It also never expects the victims to report these cases to the law (secular authority) and have the law prosecute those cases, and never seems to put any reasonable effort into getting the law changed to prosecute such cases in a fair and just manner. Secular authorities actually do something about prosecuting sexual abuse? Yawn.

It never directly compares the underlying beliefs and actions of the secular authorities back in those times and puts all historic allegations in the context of how we would handle things today. For example, huge outrage that a priest was not excommunicated immediately back in 1980, but no complaint that the priest was actually put before the court who saw fit to sentence the man to 3 years of therapy and no jail time. Why no outrage that the law was too lenient on that case and that the justice system failed the victims? Because it is mainly about attacking the Church, not about acknowledging institutional failure across a wide number of organisations back in those times to deal adequately with the problem of sexual and physical abuse.

Bearhunter said...

"The whole point is to damage the Church as much as possible."

In that case the Irish hierarchy is playing a blinder. One example: my mother has been a daily communicant for 80 years. She led the family rosary and ensured that as a family we attended everything - first Fridays, First Sundays, holy days, May devotions, October devotions, novenas, missions and pilgrimages. She no longer attends mass because she can't square the attitude of the hierarchy (ie nothing to see here, please move on) with the message that she received from the church over her eight decades of devotion. She's not alone and it isn't the fault of the media, it's the fault of the way the church refused to accept its responsibility for the systematic abuse of children in Ireland. The local bishop is a family friend and while he would like my mother to attend mass again, he understands why she feels she can't. And as I say, she isn't alone in her stand.

Andrei said...

What do you think the Irish hierarchy should do Bearhunter?

Commit Hari Kari in penance for the sins of others!

The whole purpose of this is to destroy peoples faith and to lead them into damnation. As many souls as possible.

Don't be sucked in and don't compound the wickedness by spreading this hate and dissension.

Don't be a part of it because if you are you know who you are serving.

Lucia Maria said...


The problem is that those who are daily communicants, who lead public vocal prayers and are seen to be very devout and holy people, may not actually be so.

What you've listed that your mother did prior to her deciding not attend Mass anymore are certainly are very powerful means to attain perfection, but those that do these things and already consider themselves perfect are in most serious spiritual danger.

From The Spritual Combat - Chapter 1:

But these external works, though all most holy in themselves, may yet, by the fault of those who use them as the foundation of their spiritual building, prove a more fatal occasion of ruin than open sins.

Such persons leave their hearts unguarded to the mercy of their own inclinations, and exposed to the lurking deceits of the devil, who, seeing them out of the direct road, not only lets them continue these exercises with satisfaction, but leads them in their own vain imagination to expatiate on the delights of paradise, and to fancy themselves to be borne aloft amidst the angelic choir and to feel God within them. Sometimes they find themselves absorbed in high, or mysterious, and ecstatic meditations, and, forgetful of the world and of all that it contains, they believe themselves to be caught up to the third heaven.

But the life and conversation of such Persons prove the depth of the delusion in which they are held, and their great distance from the perfection after which we are inquiring; for in all things, great and small, they desire to be preferred and placed above others; they are wedded to their own opinion, and obstinate in their own will; and blind to their own faults, they are busy and diligent observers and critics of the deeds and words of others.

But touch only with a finger their point of honor, a certain vain estimation in which they hold themselves and would have others to hold them, interrupt their stereotyped devotions, and they are disturbed and offended beyond measure.

And if, to bring them back to the true knowledge of themselves and of the way of perfection, Almighty God should send them sickness, or sorrow, or persecution (that touchstone of His servants' loyalty, which never befalls them without His permission or command), then is the unstable foundation of their spiritual edifice discovered, and its interior, all corroded and defaced by pride, laid bare; for they refuse to resign themselves to the will of God, to acquiesce in His always righteous though mysterious judgments, in all events, whether joyful or sorrowful, which may befall them; neither will they, after the example of His Divine Son in His sufferings and humiliation, abase themselves below all creatures, accounting their persecutors as beloved friends, as instruments of God's goodness, and cooperators with Him in the mortification. perfection, and salvation of their souls.

Hence it is most certain that such persons are in serious danger; for, the inward eye being darkened, wherewith they contemplate themselves and these their external good works, they attribute to themselves a very high degree of perfection; and thus puffed up with pride they pass judgment upon others, while a very extraordinary degree of God's assisting grace is needed to convert themselves. For the open sinner is more easily converted and restored to God than the man who shrouds himself under the cloak of seeming virtue.

Here's the link to the full chapter.

Anonymous said...


The problem is that those who are daily communicants, who lead public vocal prayers and are seen to be very devout and holy people, may not actually be so.

What you've listed that your mother did prior to her deciding not attend Mass anymore are certainly are very powerful means to attain perfection, but those that do these things and already consider themselves perfect are in most serious spiritual danger.

Come on Lucia, that's not a fair response. Bearhunter was expressing the confusion and betrayal his mother probably feels and demonstrating her devotion to the church prior to this mess. To respond by saying she's probably not all that devoted anyway is a cop-out and somewhat callous. It's a poor response.

It's legitimate and understandable that someone would feel aggrieved with the situation and leave - even the extremely sincere. There's no sense that she considered herself perfect.

Lucia Maria said...


I understand how my response must look to a non-Catholic.

Try to understand this. That we believe that missing Mass on a Sunday for a non-serious reason is a mortal sin.

No matter how hurt, or disappointed or unhappy a person is with the hierarchy, missing a weekly appointment with God just doesn't cut it.

It sounds like her pride is getting in the way. In my opinion.

Bearhunter said...

Hah, lovely, you're calling my mother a hypocrite. I never said she considered herself perfect, I was merely pointing out an example of someone who has been a devout catholic all her life and who has been disgusted by what she sees as a betrayal of everything the church is supposed to stand for. Frankly, I find your knee-jerk dismissal of my mother as some kind of pharisee is both unworthy and untrue. As for your little kiss-off about her pride, you are stooping helluva low to play the (wo)man instead of the ball on this one.

Andrei: "The whole purpose of this is to destroy peoples faith and to lead them into damnation. As many souls as possible."

You honestly believe this is a media conspiracy? You think that the findings of the Ferns report and the Murphy report were simply made up by the media?

Anonymous said...

This isn't about being non-Catholic.

Your closing words are on the point - it's your opinion. You've judged it a non-serious reason when to her it must clearly be serious if she is willing to disconnect from something that was clearly so important to her.

Look at it through the eyes of those who are not defending the pope so admirably and are hearing the stories - it's extremely serious.

In their eyes (the defense aside), those who have been administering the sacraments have been engaged in systematic child abuse and covering it up for a very long time. As an adherent, how could that possibly be viewed as 'non-serious'?

Remember, in the Catholic view a priest is not just an employee of the church, he is a whole lot more. What happens when the priest and all the hierarchy above him become, in the eyes of the congregant, the purveyors of sin themselves - when the structure that is supposed to nurture the faith becomes seen as the protector and administrator of the sin of child abuse. Doesn't it then become extremely understandable for someone to step away?

The responsibility then on those who can offer a defense is not to call into question those who therefore understandably step away, but to demonstrate why the faithful can still trust the structures of the church.

As a victim of child abuse myself (not within the RCC) I would say that to even hint that this is a non-serious reason to miss Mass is closer to being a mortal sin.

Andrei said...


Did I say it was a media conspiracy?

No it goes deeper than that, the media are just useful idiots playing along with a more sinister agenda.

The Church is, as it always has been, under attack. This is just a modern version of an age old battle. The4 media are just useful idiots in this age old spiritual battle.

The Priests that succumbed to temptation have a lot to answer for

The church authorities who handled it the way they did which in the context of the times seemed to be correct were just souls struggling through life the way we all do.

They got it wrong sometimes, as we all do - so did secular authorities
many more times than the bishops.

But the Bishops in this story are not even guilty of mishandling abuse claims - they are guilty only by association.

ZenTiger said...

Bearhunter, with all due respect to your mother, I would suggest this is the time she most needs her faith.

If she believes in an afterlife, and she believes that we will ultimately be judged, then those people in the Catholic hierarchy she blames will not escape justice.

In the mean time, if she also believes her priest and others like him remain devout and committed, then she can support them by turning up for mass, and for all the reasons Lucia mentioned to do with her personal relationship with God.

If a message needs to be sent to the Irish Catholic hierarchy, then there are other ways of doing so that would not require her to self-excommunicate herself. I can think of many such actions.

Giving up on the Church and her good priests (always the majority) sends the wrong message and causes her greater spiritual damage IMHO.

ZenTiger said...

I read a report about the Pope not accepting resignations of these two priests that were not implicated of any wrongdoing in the report as if he was doing nothing.

However, that is rubbish.

He has accepted the resignations of two other Bishops. One of those Bishops were barely criticised:

James Moriarty, the Bishop of Kildare, also offered his resignation to Pope Benedict in December. It was accepted in April.

Bishop Moriarty, who was auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, was barely criticised in report, but said he "should have challenged the prevailing culture".

He no doubt would have accepted the resignations of three of the four key Bishops implicated in the report, but they had died.

And what about the consequences to the Police who failed to do anything meaningful, way back then, and then from 2002? Do we accept their excuses?

Anonymous said...

The whole point of Benedict's actions seem to be based on giving those with the most to answer for the chance to resign. And he wants to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

None of this removes PERSONAL obligation to stay on the straight and narrow.

And I'm with a previous commenter: LRO, you can just FRO. Come back when you've grown up.

Lucia Maria said...


You are the one that brought your mother into this as an example of the type of person who no longer goes to Mass because of "the hierarchy". Yet you have not said what she and other want "the hierarchy" to do. Does the hierarchy include the Holy Father. Every one else seems to want to blame him for what has happened, does your mother blame him too.

I find it incredible that a seemingly devout woman who is a "daily communicant" (ie goes to Mass every single day) suddenly stops going. She's not at risk of martyrdom, I presume she has no problem with her own parish priest, or your family friend the bishop, it's this "hierarchy" she has a problem with. So she stops going to Mass.

I call bullshit on your assertion she is devout. The real devout don't stop going to Mass for such a reason. The real devout offer their suffering in reparation for the Church, and they keep going.

I know what it's like having to swap parishes because of the priest, knowing that if a complaint is made to the local bishop it will be ignored. Those who are devout just keep going, while as people such as myself who can't take it go to another parish. We don't stop going completely, because we don't go to keep up appearances, we go to worship God, we go to save our souls.

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