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(1) Tearful Walsh Apologises for 'Head on a Plate' Remark

Irish Independent, December 02 2009 by By Gordon Deegan

THE Bishop of Killaloe Dr Willie Walsh broke down and cried on live radio yesterday after saying that he didn't want to pass judgment on others.

Dr Walsh broke down after stating: "Part of my nature is never really to judge anyone else. Part of the reason for that is that I am only too conscious of my own frailty and failures, so I don't want to pass judgment on anyone else."

An under-pressure Dr Walsh was responding to the fallout from his remarks on RTE radio, on Monday, when he warned against a desire to get "a head on a plate" over calls for the resignation of the Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray.

Yesterday, on Clare FM's 'Morning Focus' programme, presenter John Cooke was forced to take an early ad break to allow a weeping Dr Walsh compose himself.

Dr Walsh revealed that he has received a lot of phone calls from clerical sex abuse victims after his comments on Monday -- objecting to what he said.

"I'm very sorry for that and I apologise unreservedly for any hurt that I have caused, particularly to any victim," he said.

"The important thing here is the people who have suffered so much, and who are still carrying hurt," Dr Walsh added.

He admitted his remark about a "head on a plate" was "an unfortunate phrase".

He said: "What I thought I was calling for was a fair hearing, a balanced hearing.

"Obviously, other people think very differently. Other people saw that in some way maybe my condoning a failure to deal with this issue. I don't condone any failures to deal with this issue, but obviously, it came across the wrong way and caused hurt to some people."

"For that I apologise unreservedly; it is the last thing I would want to do."

Dr Walsh was away on business for the remainder of yesterday and was unavailable for further comment.

(2) Willie Walsh Apologises (Again)

The Daily Mail 3 December 2009 by

THE Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said yesterday: 'I will be issuing a formal apology in the coming days for the hurt I caused through my comments on the radio on Monday.' Bishop Walsh will apologise over his controversial remarks during an interview on RTE's Morning Ireland, admitting that his comments in defence of beleaguered Bishop Donal Murray showed 'poor judgment'.

'I know sometimes that people think that these apologies are not of value... but it is certainly a sincere apology,' he said.

Dr Walsh has been under pressure since the interview week in which he misjudged the level of public anger over Bishop Murray's refusal to resign despite his handling of clerical abuse being described as 'inexcusable' in the Murphy report.

Dr Walsh defended Bishop Murray, saying that calls for his resignation were akin to asking for his 'head on a plate'.

The bishop said he will now formally apologise for comments which 'showed poor judgment on my part'.

'I would to acknowledge that and apologise for the distress caused,' he said, adding, 'the last thing in the world I would want to do' would be to add to the pain of victims, but it is 'clear... that I did add to that pain'.

(3) Bishop Regrets Radio Remarks

The Clare Champion December 2009 by Dan Danaher

BISHOP Willie Walsh is to issue a formal apology over the coming days to victims of clerical sexual abuse over comments he made on a national radio programme on Monday about his stance on calls for the resignation of Bishop of Limerick, Donal Murray. The Bishop of Killaloe unwittingly found himself in the eye of a storm this week when victim support groups criticised his failure to support calls for Bishop Murray to resign over his handling of some abuse cases, following the publication of the damning Commission of Investigation into the Archdiocese of Dublin (Murphy Report).

At the end of an interview with RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Bishop Walsh said calls for the resignation of Dr Murray were based on a “gross misreading” of the report and warned against a desire “to get a head on a plate”.

The statement prompted a number of calls from victims of abuse all over the country, including one from the Killaloe diocese, who were upset by the remarks.

A statement from Bishop Walsh apologising for the breaches of trust that occurred in relation to the abuse of children in his own diocese was read at weekend masses throughout the diocese, with the exception of Newmarket-on-Fergus.

There was speculation that it wasn’t read out in Newmarket due to criticisms in the Murphy Report of Newmarket native, the late Archbishop Kevin McNamara.
However, in an interview with The Clare Champion, Bishop Walsh revealed that his statement was not read out for reasons of sensitivity to a particular family and had nothing to do with Archbishop McNamara.

Director of victim support group One in Four, Maeve Lewis, told The Clare Champion she had the height of respect for Bishop Walsh and what he had done in the area of child protection.

While Ms Lewis understood where Bishop Walsh was coming from in relation to Bishop Murray, she expressed disappointment with his statement on Monday.

Ms Lewis claimed Bishop Murray’s position is now “untenable” after the report had found his actions were “inexcuseable and unacceptable” in one case and led to other children being subsequently abused.

In spite of issuing public apologies, Ms Lewis stressed it is time for senior clergymen to take responsibility for their own actions. She stated emphatically that her call is not about trying to scapegoat any particular bishop.

“The report found there was a deliberate strategy by senior clergymen to protect the church and sex offenders at the expense of vulnerable young children,” she said.

Bishop Walsh admitted he reacted in a way that wasn’t appropriate when questioned about Bishop Murray and deeply regretted that he had caused deep hurt to victims of abuse.

“I deeply regret adding hurt to the hurt for the survivors of abuse. I have spent hours listening to people who were abused and I have some idea of the hurt involved. The last thing I wanted to do was to add further hurt and I am very sorry for this bad judgement.

“I did feel I was between a rock and a hard place. I know Donal Murray for the past 15 years. I know the very important work he has done for the Irish Episalaetical Conference.

“I felt that for that reason, I was not going to act as judge and jury. It is not my style to act in judgement of anyone. I am too well aware of my own fralities and that I make mistakes.

“I could not put my hand on my heart and say I have not made a mistake in handling this issue over the past 15 years. Anyone who rang me to express their opinion, I returned their call and apologised to them individually,” he said.

Asked if he now felt that Bishop Murray should resign, Bishop Walsh said that everyone, including himself, had to seriously examine their own conscience and try to see how anything may have contributed to this horrible story.

The bishop acknowledged that all bishops had to be accountable to survivors of abuse, to people and to God. He then expressed confidence that his colleagues would examine their own conscience in this regard.

He agreed that Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is entitled to ask any of the bishops named in the report for an explanation of their actions at the time and noted that Archbishop Martin had pointed out they were answerable to Dublin people and the diocese following crimes of abuse.

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 came 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.

(4) Crisis Affords Chance to Remove Ills of Past, says Walsh

The Irish Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by GORDON DEEGAN

Bishop Willie Walsh (left) and Fr Tom Ryan at the dedication of the Adoration Chapel yesterday. Photograph: Brian Arthur/Press 22.Bishop Willie Walsh (left) and Fr Tom Ryan at the dedication of the Adoration Chapel yesterday. Photograph: Brian Arthur/Press 22.

BISHOP'S VIEWS: THE BISHOP of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said yesterday that the crisis in the Church was also a time of opportunity to remove what was wrong in the past.

Speaking ahead of today’s winter general meeting of the Bishops’ Conference, Dr Walsh said in Shannon that the bishops attending the meeting will be going there “in a very humble and repentant spirit and hope and pray that we can in some way touch the hearts of those who have been so hurt over the years”.

He said: “Whatever our failures have been in the past, I think all of us are going into that meeting in that spirit, that we need to get back to the values and teachings and example of Jesus Christ.”

He said there was an “opportunity to remove whatever was wrong in the past . . . Whatever price it takes, we want to remove all of that – whatever it takes to bring the real spirit of Christ . . . to bring that back, to bring back truth, justice, compassion and love”.

He added: “Every crisis is also an opportunity, an opportunity for serious change, to begin again, to renew our faith, our hope and indeed our love.”

Dr Walsh also publicly apologised again for remarks he made on RTÉ radio last week where he warned against a desire for “a head on a plate” concerning calls for the resignation of Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray.

“I’m very conscious that last week, I made ill-chosen words in a radio interview which caused deep hurt,” he said.

He added: “I have no hesitation in apologising for that hurt. The very last thing that anyone would want is to add to the hurt, the deep hurt of survivors of sexual abuse.”

Yesterday, Bishop Walsh wept openly after a parish priest declared the people’s love for him at the blessing and dedication of a new Adoration Chapel in Shannon. Fr Tom Ryan told Dr Walsh “we love you”, and thanked the bishop for his 15 years of inspirational leadership, not just in the diocese of Killaloe, but across the Irish church.

The packed church responded with sustained applause for Dr Walsh. Fr Ryan recalled being a student in Galway during Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979. Addressing Dr Walsh at the end of the Mass, he said: “The Pope told us in the early morning ‘young people of Ireland, I love you’ and I would sincerely say with the greatest respect to you, ‘Bishop Willie we love you here too’. ”

Dr Walsh is due to retire as bishop next year. Fr Ryan told him: “This is your 50th year of ordination and you truly have been an inspiring leader, not just to the Killaloe diocese, but to the Irish church and may you continue to do so for many years to come.”

The new church is the first new church in the Diocese of Killaloe this century and was built at a cost of €250,000 by SkyCourt, the developers of SkyCourt shopping centre in Shannon.

Dr Walsh said that the timing of the opening of the new church was significant as he said “in recent years and above all in recent days has shown our church to be in deep crisis”.