The Irish Times – Thursday, December 3, 2009

PATSY MCGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

ALL BISHOPS named in the Dublin diocesan report “should resign immediately from their current pastoral positions”, leading theologian Dr Vincent Twomey has said.

The former professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, said “the longer they delay in doing so, the greater the damage they will do to all faithful Catholics, and in particular to the survivors of abuse who are still paying the price for the sins of their priests and bishops”.

In a letter published in The Irish Times today, he says “my instinct is to defend the church from unfounded attacks. But the revelations of the Murphy report are something else. The actions, or rather for the most part, the inactions of the bishops named there are simply indefensible.”

He says: “at the very least, it would seem, all were guilty of negligence – some, such as Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, whose behaviour was described as ‘inexcusable’, more than others. But all were deemed guilty of inaction, of failing to listen to their conscience, as Mary Raftery put it on radio and television.”

Author of a number of books including End of Irish Catholicism? , Dr Twomey was a doctoral pupil of the current pope for seven years at Tübingen University in Germany.

He is also a member of the Schülerkreis, an annual conference of the pope’s graduate students who meet the pontiff annually. This get-together has taken place at Castel Gandolfo every summer since Pope Benedict’s election to the papacy in 2005.

Speaking last night, Dr Twomey said he had written the letter in a personal capacity. He had found the response of Ireland’s Catholic bishops following publication of the report last week “mind-boggling”.

“They seem incapable of responding,” he added.

In his letter, Dr Twomey says the bishops “were deemed guilty of putting the interests of the institution above the safety and welfare of children. Their failure to act when necessary, whatever the motivation, caused profound emotional damage to the victims of clerical sexual abuse and their families, and facilitated even more abuse.”

He said “their failure to act decisively has also, as Fr Tom Doyle, the American canon lawyer, said on Prime Time , caused untold spiritual damage to those entrusted to their pastoral care”.

Meanwhile, it emerged the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews is preparing legislation to create a Criminal Assets Bureau type of dedicated agency to oversee information on child abuse.

A proposal that the Garda vetting unit be put on a statutory basis and that this body would have responsibility for the management of all information on child abuse is being explored.

 

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