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Bishop Donal Murray

Bishop Donal Murray

Bishop Donal Murray resigned as Bishop of Limerick in December 2009 following criticism in the Murphy Report of his handling of allegations of child abuse when he was an auxiliary Bishop of Dublin.

In 2006 he was involved in controversy in Limerick when a local man Peter McCloskey committed suicide. Mr McCloskey alleged that he had been molested by a priest of the diocese when he was 10 and Bishop Murray - who said that he fully accepted the truth of the allegations - was engaged in discussion with him shortly before he died. Peter McCloskey's mother and brother demanded that the Bishop resign in 2006 - and again in 2009 after publication of the Murphy report. However his estranged former wife supported the Bishop on both occassions.

When Dr Murray was first criticised folllowing the publication of the Murphy Report, Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe came to his defence saying that he was uncomfortable with what he described as “the public trial” surrounding Bishop Murray. I’d have to ask, is it about the healing of survivors or is it about some sort of desire to get a head on a plate?” he said. Bishop Walsh said while “an enormous injustice” had been done to victims of clerical abuse, the situation would not be helped “if we do injustice to other people involved”. "Survivors" of child abuse expressed their outrage and Bishop Walsh did a quick u-turn weeping on live radio as he apologised for adding to their pain. (This was one of several apologies he made for his comments.)

Bishop Donal Murray resigned as Bishop of Limerick on 17 December 2009. In an article in the Sunday World on 20 December his brother journalist Paddy Murray wrote:

".......... if you read the report, you would know that, in the five cases in which my brother was told of specific allegations against a priest, he took the correct action and is acknowledged to have done so. In the other cases, concerns were raised, but no allegations of abuse were made. Indeed he was not actually handling the three cases in which he was the subject of criticism.

In the case of Fr Naughton, my brother asked if there was an allegation of abuse and was told there was not. Nevertheless, he had his ‘concerns’ investigated. And that investigation, by Fr Naughton’s Parish Priest, resulted in Donal being told there was no abuse. When it subsequently emerged that Naughton was indeed an abuser, Donal reported the earlier concerns to his superiors. As long ago as 2002 he acknowledged that he should have reinvestigated these concerns. He didn’t. And it is that failure, NOT his handling of the case or any other case, which the Commission deemed to be ‘inexcusable’.

A good man has been vilified. A man whose heart is filled with compassion, who has devoted his life to God and to those less fortunate than himself, who has, by his own admission, occasionally failed, has been scapegoated by those who should and do know better. The lynch mob has had its day and will now, no doubt, hunt for more victims.

I am not surprised at politicians bandwagoning and joining the witch-hunt. It is what they do in their constant search for the popular cause. My anger at members of   my own profession, for their utter failure to check facts and for publishing stories, which were utterly  and patently false, is intense. My fury at the Commission itself for failing to correct misinterpretations of its report is deep. My disappointment at senior members of the Catholic clergy for their hand-wringing is palpable
. ......."

(Paddy Murray's article does not seem to be available on the Sunday World website although other articles of his in December 2009 are; I got it from the website of the Diocese of Limerick. Similarily a Daily Mail article on his reaction is in the process of disappearing; I got it from an Internet cache. It may be that his journalist colleagues don't like his characterisation of themselves!)

The Suicide of Peter McCloskey (April 2006)

Tragic Peter - Mary Raftery Speaks-April 2006

Peter McCloskey - Two Views- April 2006

Bishop Murray and Family of Peter McCloskey - December 2009

The Suicide of Peter McCloskey - April 2006

Tragic Peter: Bishop Speaks-April 2006

Bishop Murray and the Murphy Report (November 2009)

Bishop Donal Murray and Bishop Willie Walsh

Tearful Willie Walsh Apologises (Again) for "Head On Plate" Remark - December 2009

Most of Congregation Appears to Back Bishop on Handling of Abuse Allegations - 30 November 2009

Archbishop Martin "Unhappy" and Abuse Survivor Andrew Madden "Shocked"

Pressure Mounts on Murray to Resign Despite Letter of Support from Local Group

Bishop of Limerick Won't Resign Over Child Sexual Abuse Cover-Up, Limerick Leader - 26 November 2009

Bishop Donal Murray Resigns - BBC News 17 December 2009

Article by Sunday World Journalist Paddy Murray on his brother Bishop Donal Murray - 20 December 2009

Paddy Murray blasts brother's 'vilification', Limerick Leader and Daily Mail - 21 December 2009