Second Irish bishop resigns over sex abuse scandal

CNN/December 23, 2009

An Irish bishop resigned Wednesday following a government report into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy -- the second to do so.

Bishop Jim Moriarty was not directly criticized in the Murphy Report, but was a member of the Dublin archdiocese leadership for more than a decade before it put proper protections for children in place, he said.

Moriarty said he "should have challenged the prevailing culture" of protecting the church rather than children when he was an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002.

"I know that any action now on my part does not take away the suffering that people have endured," he said in a written statement.

"I again apologize to all the survivors and their families. I have today offered my resignation as bishop of Kildare & Leighlin to the Holy Father. I hope it honors the truth that the survivors have so bravely uncovered and opens the way to a better future for all concerned."

The Vatican had no immediate comment on the resignation.

Moriarty has been a priest for 48 years, he said in the statement.

"I fully accept the overall conclusion ... that the attempts by church authorities to 'protect the church' and to 'avoid scandal' had the most dreadful consequences for children and were deeply wrong," Moriarty said after the government report came out last month.

Bishop Donal Murray, the bishop of Limerick, resigned on December 17.

Murray was named in the 720-page report that found the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Catholic Church authorities in Ireland covered up clerical child abuse from 1975 to 2004. Child sexual abuse was "widespread" then, the report found.

The report by the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation, which was set up in March 2006 to look into the abuse allegations, did not say Murray was guilty of abuse but that he failed to report it.

Murray was "aware for many years of complaints and/or suspicions of clerical child sexual abuse in the archdiocese," the report found. It said he dealt "badly" with a number of complaints and suspicions of abuse, and that his failings in at least one instance were "inexcusable."

Murray resigned under a canon law that requires bishops who have become unsuited for the fulfillment of their office to resign, the Vatican said.

Pope Benedict XVI met with senior Irish bishops at the Vatican a week before Murray's resignation and said he was "deeply disturbed and distressed" by the report's findings. He promised that the Catholic Church would try to develop strategies to make sure the abuses don't happen again.

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