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Pope Rejects Resignations of Irish Bishops Accused in Sex Abuse Crisis

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If Pope Benedict XVI is trying to dig the Catholic Church out of the sex abuse scandal, he only seems to be making the hole deeper.

That's the apparent consensus after it was reported that the pope has rejected the resignations of two bishops in Ireland who asked to quit last December after they were named in an independent report for their lack of diligence and action in the country's awful history of the sexual and physical abuse of children by priests.

The bishops, Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field, are auxiliary, or assistant bishops, to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who was sent to Dublin to clean up the abuse mess. Martin, who was profiled by PoliticsDaily earlier this year, had pushed Walsh and Field to resign, which they did in Christmas Eve letters to the pope.

Pope Benedict XVITwo other bishops criticized in the government's report on church abuse -- Bishop Donal Murray and Bishop Jim Moriarty -- have had offers of resignation accepted by the Vatican. A fifth bishop named in the report, Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway, has resisted calls for his resignation.

The Vatican's rejection of the resignations of Walsh and Field is seen as a blow to Martin's efforts.

"The Vatican [was] not impressed with the way Diarmuid Martin went on PrimeTime [an Irish television news program] and called on other bishops to be accountable," Garry O'Sullivan, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin, told The Associated Press. "It's not the way business is done in Rome."

The Irish Catholic first obtained a copy of a letter Martin sent to priests, in which he said the Vatican decided that the bishops would remain in office but would be "assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese." Neither Archbishop Martin nor the auxiliaries would comment or detail what those new responsibilities would entail.

Other analysts suggested that behind the Vatican's rejection was the fear of a "domino effect" in which any bishop or cardinal implicated in the abuse crisis could be pushed to resign, which is a nightmare scenario to a tradition-minded pope like Benedict XVI.

"In other words, there may still be many Irish bishops with 'mishandling/bureaucratic,' sex abuse skeletons still in the cupboard who would also have to resign," Paddy Agnew wrote in The Irish Times.

That would be fine with sex abuse victims, who were outraged at the decision to reject the resignations.

"So much was expected of the pontiff, and so little was delivered," said John Kelly, leader of Survivors of Child Abuse, an Irish advocacy group. "The pope said that priests and bishops needed to surrender themselves to the demands of justice. Here were two of many who did surrender themselves -- and they've been refused," Kelly said. "That sends out a signal that there is to be no change, no closure for victims and no accountability."

Abuse survivor Marie Collins also said she was "at a loss" and "past being angry."

The church was not "going to be accountable or take responsibility." She felt "people, survivors in particular, are also entitled to an explanation as to why Bishop Moriarty's resignation was accepted but Bishop Walsh's and Bishop Field's were not."

In the United States, SNAP, or The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, chastised Benedict for "rubbing more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics."

Media reaction was blistering as well.

Writing in The Herald of Ireland, Terry Prone accused the Vatican of "arrogance." He said the way the news was communicated was typical of the Vatican, and said that "somewhere along the line, the officer class in the Catholic Church decided they no longer needed to explain and persuade and motivate. They could just tell the faithful. Or not tell them, as in this case."

"Latest Papal diktat spells doom for people's church" ran the headline in John Cooney's column in the Irish Independent, while Kevin Clarke, writing on the blog of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly in the United States, searched for an explanation.

"Could the Curia [the pope's advisors] truly be so oblivious to the anger and frustration of average Catholics worldwide trying to make sense of the church's response to years of sexual abuse by clergy on Catholic children?" Clarke asked. "It doesn't seem possible."

For many, it now seems more than possible, but highly probable.

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I am 61 and feeling very discouraged by the direction of the Church. This further supports my theory. But really upset me was equating the sins of the pedophilic priests with that of the priests who have ordained women in the Church. I think Pope Benedict is a sexist, out of touch old man.

August 17 2010 at 11:00 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

this silly old man, how can he receive respect. to abuse children and live the rest of your life like royalty is sick. you might drive a good number of us from attending mass and financially supporting the local churches who send much $$$$ to rome, but God bless the little old nuns who taught us the love of Jesus. wait until you die and find out He is for real.

August 12 2010 at 10:57 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

We were just at Masses in Dublin and Galway. The number of attendees was about 50 at each Church. Our family tells us this is the new norm. Very few people attending that are under 60 years old. Pathetic. My Mom always told us, the two groups on Earth you don't mess with...children and the elderly. The pedophile priests have messed with children, and they don't seem the least bit sorry. It's very difficult to not be cynical when you're sitting in a pew, and they're chastising for sins, and begging for dollars. Perhaps if they allow married priests and sell a few trinkets people will start to take them more seriously.

August 12 2010 at 10:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Is he trying to drive us out of the Church? Cardinal Law's treatment was bad enough, but this really adds to the sorrow and confusion most of us feel about what appears to be the Vatican's care for reputation and protection of the hierarchy as opposed to its minimal understanding of the terrible damage done to so many innocent children. I guess we have to wait for the mill stone Jesus promised to anyone who hurt one of His little ones.

August 12 2010 at 10:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cp8967's comment

I was in Boston at the time of Cardinal Law's disgrace. I wanted to go the cathedral where he always said mass, and join the protesters outside of church. People were angry and furious with him. Someone actually made a template saying Bernie the Pimp, and went all around Boston spraying the template with red paint. I had such a laugh over the blatant disrespect.

August 13 2010 at 12:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It's not a Cardinal sin if it's a Bishop.They make the Priest swear they will NOT BE WITH WOMAN. That there Vow......

August 12 2010 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

August 12 2010 at 9:35 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

I haven't been able to sleep since I read those awful stories of physical torture of priests against children. On what planet does the Pope live? His actions, or inactions, shows me that the church has no interest in justice. I continue to be a Catholic only because I belive in Jesus Christ, not the Catholic Church.

August 12 2010 at 8:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I wonder if there's some connection between the alleged influence of Jansenism on Irish (and Irish-American, etc.) Catholicism and the sex abuse problem. (The more a thing is forbidden the more it will become a temptation.)

August 12 2010 at 8:23 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Here's an interesting documentary on the "Third Secret" of Fatima:

August 12 2010 at 8:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

To all you non-Catholics and CINO's ( Catholic in Name Only ) who know nothing about the Church, let him/her who is without sin cast the first stone. Are you all so pure that you can bash the Church? Look deeply in your own closet ( Church ) and then tell me that it's clean, WITHOUT LYING!! Just because there are corrupt sinners in the Catholic Church does not mean that the Church itself is, or that all believers are. The Pope is the CEO and as such I'm sure he knows what he is doing. I doubt if any of you attackers or complainers can do likewise or better!

August 12 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to K2CDS's comment

So evidently what you're saying is that all CEOs know what they're doing? I don't think you'll get too many thumbs-up for that suggestion.

August 12 2010 at 9:34 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

There is a huge difference between "Being without sin" and being an evil monster that preys on children and the weak. Of course if you are a pedophile yourself, or an abusive monster, then you surely would want to protect your own. Right?
There is a huge number of us REAL Catholics that are fed up and totally disgusted by the actions of some in our churches. It is high time for change and that means stopping the many cover ups, and the many enablers of these crimes. The church has always been quick to preach damnation and the need for us all to repent. (And confess) It is time they practice what they have been preaching all these years. They have thus far lost most of their dignity, and a vast number of their flock!

August 12 2010 at 9:51 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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