The Irish Times - Monday, November 30, 2009 by MARIE O'HALLORAN
Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray chats to churchgoers at St. Josephs Church O’Connell Avenue, Limerick yesterday, where he had earlier said Mass. Photograph Don Moloney
CHURCH-GOERS HAD predominantly positive views yesterday about Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray and the homily he delivered at Mass in St Joseph’s parish in the city about his handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations.
One man, accompanied by his toddler daughter, believed “his response is inadequate and he has to go”. Asked about Dr Murray’s view that parish councils and representative groups would decide whether he should stay on as Bishop of Limerick, he said: “I think that if you’re a leader of an organisation you have to lead by example. I’m a manager of a business, employed by somebody else. If I mess up, I have to lead by example and go.”
However, another parishioner, Pat Downs, described the bishop’s homily as “quite informative. I’m glad he made a statement here.” Asked if he thought Dr Murray should resign, he said “absolutely not”. His wife, Nuala Downs, said: “We’re not here to judge this life. God is here to judge us.”
Like a number of the congregation, the Downses spoke to Dr Murray in the church after Mass. “One woman went up to the bishop and said he should resign,” Ms Downs added, but her own view was that “we shouldn’t be in church if we’re going to judge”.
Some 200 people, mainly older, attended the ceremony and applauded the bishop after his homily on the commission investigating the handling of abuse in the Dublin archdiocese and his actions.
Dr Murray is under pressure to resign because of the commission’s conclusion that it was “inexcusable” that he failed to reinvestigate complaints in the 1980s against Fr Tom Naughton, when later allegations were made.
Parishioner Philip Moore said: “I think he’s a nice man and I don’t think he should resign. He said he reported all the matters that came to him.”
Another parishioner, John Cotte, said: “I don’t see any reason why he should resign. Some people wouldn’t stop until they got the pope himself to resign.” One elderly woman said: “I do pity the innocent priests or anyone who’s innocent.”
Another man said the bishops “are doing the best they can. I know that some priests obviously need to be punished but we’re behind the priests and bishops.” Attending Mass with his child, he added: “I’m not looking for a scapegoat. I wouldn’t be looking for the bishop to resign straight off. I don’t want to come across as ‘no matter what priests do I’m going to back them’, but I’d have to know more.”
One Massgoer said he had heard Dr Murray was going to speak at St Joseph’s and wanted to attend. “The bishop did his best at the time but his best wasn’t good enough. He’s accepted that and I think that you have to admire that.”
The man, who said he had no connection with the church, added: “He could have done a quiet Mass today, he could have disappeared,” but, “unlike the church a lot of the time when they put their head down, at least he has kept the head up and met the public”.
What They Said
We’re not here to judge this life. God is here to judge us
I don’t see any reason why he should resign. Some people wouldn’t stop until they got the pope himself to resign
I think he’s a niceman and I don’t think he should resign. He said he reported all the
matters that came to him
The Irish Times - Monday, November 30, 2009 by MARIE O'HALLORAN in Limerick
BISHOP OF Limerick Donal Murray has said the issue of whether he resigns over his handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations “is basically a question of whether my presence here is a help or a hindrance to the diocese of Limerick”.
During his homily at 10am Mass at St Joseph’s church in Limerick city yesterday, Dr Murray said he would be guided by the priests and people of the parish, through its various representative groups and in particular the diocesan child protection committee.
Some 200 people, predominantly of an older age group, attended the Mass and applauded the bishop after his homily.
In his homily, Bishop Murray said if there were cases where abuse might have been prevented had he acted differently, he would remain “eternally sorry and apologetic”, but in one case he could think of, his inability to get the full truth was not because of a lack of effort but “a lack of skill, of experience”.
Speaking before the ceremony, Bishop Murray said he had no objection to the remit of the commission of investigation being extended to all other dioceses.
“I think it would take an awful long time, at the pace the Dublin commission works. But yes, I’d have no objection to it anyway.”
Arriving at the church, he spoke to The Irish Times. Asked about the calls for his resignation, he said: “I think I’ve learnt lessons. Certainly there were mistakes made, but I never ignored an allegation and I never tried to cover up an allegation.”
Asked how Limerick’s priests and people would decide whether he should remain as bishop, he replied, “I don’t know”, but then added, “We have parish councils, we have pastoral areas, we have pastoral councils and all those bodies”.
Later during Mass, he said: “I’ll be guided by the priests and people of the diocese, through the various relevant groups that we have that represent individuals and groups in parishes in the diocese – the priests’ council, the parish pastoral councils, the diocesan pastoral council, the pastoral areas of the diocese and in particular perhaps the diocesan child protection committee. They guide me and advise me and I’ll be listening to them and through them I’ll be listening to you.”
The commission of investigation into the Dublin archdiocese said in its report that Bishop Murray, as auxiliary bishop of Dublin, did not deal properly with the suspicions he was alerted to in relation to Fr Tom Naughton in the early 1980s. Evidence of Fr Naughton’s behaviour later emerged in another parish, and the report described as “inexcusable” Bishop Murray’s failure then to reinvestigate.
The bishop told Mass-goers yesterday: “If there were cases where the abuse of children might have been prevented had I acted differently, I offer those people my sincerest apology. I can honestly say that in one such case that I can think of, my inability to get the full truth was not the result of any lack of effort on my part but perhaps of a lack of skill, of experience.
“That’s no consolation to the children who were abused – that I was lacking in experience – and I’ll remain eternally sorry and apologetic to anyone whose suffering I might possibly have prevented.”
He stressed, however, “that at no time did I receive an allegation of sexual abuse and fail to take it seriously, and at no time did I engage in an attempt to cover it up. I do want to assure you that in my time in Limerick, every allegation of child sexual abuse has been taken seriously and has been passed on to the gardaí and the HSE .