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Drennan says Martin Backs his Decision to Remain in Post

Irish Independent, February 19 2010 by John Cooney and Brian McDonald

DEFIANT Martin Drennan claims 23 Irish bishops and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, back his decision to stay on as Bishop of Galway.

Bishop Drennan's insistence that his position is safe has left Archbishop Martin in an embarrassing and difficult predicament as he meets abuse victims today.

The Galway prelate also signalled a deepening rift between himself and Dr Martin in interviews yesterday.

He said he regarded it as "inappropriate" for the Archbishop to be writing to him about his behaviour.

Bishop Drennan said he had personally told Dr Martin this. He pointed out that Dr Martin had no direct responsibility for him. A spokesman for the Archbishop last night declined to respond to the criticisms made by Bishop Drennan.

Victims who suffered at the hands of paedophile priests in Dublin have repeatedly demanded the resignation of Bishop Drennan and others named in Murphy report.

The damning report into the handling of abuse complaints in the Dublin Archdiocese found members of the church hierarchy were often more concerned with the reputation of the church than with protecting children.

In church circles last night , Bishop Drennan's bullish remarks were seen as a confident declaration that his position is secure.

He believes he is not under threat of being removed by Pope Benedict who specifically instructed the Irish bishops to unite and speak with one voice.

Yesterday, Bishop Drennan said the question of his resignation did not arise during the Catholic hierarchy's two-day visit to Rome.

"From what I heard, I think (Dr Martin) is satisfied now that I have taken responsibility for my actions," he told Galway Bay FM.


Referring to Dr Martin's public call last December in the wake of the Murphy report for him to take responsibility for his actions about abuse complaints when he was an auxiliary bishop in the Dublin archdiocese from 1997-2004, Bishop Drennan said: "I responded to his letter and he did mention that ... not on this occasion in Rome, but on other occasions ... that he felt I had taken responsibility for my actions. So I think I'm satisfied on that score."

Referring also to the response of other bishops, Bishop Drennan said he had been in contact with "every one of them", and they had been "very supportive" of his position. Pressed further, Bishop Drennan said: "I know he (Dr Martin) has no direct responsibility for me. My direct responsibility is to the Archbishop of Tuam, the Papal Nuncio and then the Congregation in Rome."

Pressure on Dr Martin will intensify today at a meeting with prominent Dublin victims, Marie Cassidy, Andrew Madden and Maeve Lewis, the executive director of the One in Four victims' support group.

In a statement, Mr Madden said Dr Drennan should have challenged the prevailing culture of cover-up. "It should also be remembered that resignations are not just about 'healing'. They are also about taking responsibility for what one has done or failed to do in a way requested by those you have offended against, not on one's own terms," he added.

Bishop Drennan said that collective responsibility did not exist during his time in the Dublin Archdiocese and still did not exist there for auxiliary bishops. The role of the auxiliary bishops was to support the decisions of the archbishop.

"Information was not always shared, because information was often given in confidence and information was given to the archbishop and he was asked not to share it."

Bishop Drennan said that the new church guidelines for dealing with clerical sex abuse complaints had been introduced in 1996 and he became an auxiliary bishop in 1997. He also said it would not be appropriate for him to meet people such as Mr Madden as he could not deal with the situation in Dublin.

- John Cooney and Brian McDonald