Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pope accepts Irish bishop's resignation



Pope accepts Irish bishop's resignation

British Roman Catholic leader also apologizes for abuse by priests

Last Updated: Thursday, April 22, 2010 | 2:44 PM ET

The Pope has accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop who admitted he didn't challenge the Dublin church's policy of covering up sex abuse by priests.

Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare, Ireland, seen here in January, resigned Thursday after admitting he didn't challenge the church's policy of covering up sexual abuse of children. Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare, Ireland, seen here in January, resigned Thursday after admitting he didn't challenge the church's policy of covering up sexual abuse of children.(Julien Behal/Associated Press)

The Vatican said Thursday the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty of Kildare under a code of canon law that allows bishops to resign if they are ill or some other "grave reason" makes them "unsuited for the fulfilment of his office."

Moriarty, 73, is the third Irish Roman Catholic bishop to resign in four months as a result of the Irish sex abuse scandal.

Two others have offered to quit as the Vatican comes under increasing pressure to get rid of bishops who covered up for priests who molested children for decades.

Moriarty said Thursday he was stepping down because he realized that "renewal must begin with accepting responsibility for the past."

Also on Thursday, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, apologized for clerical abuse and said the actions of some priests had brought "deep shame to the whole church."

Hundreds of people have come forward in recent months, including in Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, accusing priests of raping and abusing them while bishops and church higher-ups turned a blind eye.

On Wednesday, Benedict promised unspecified "church action" to confront the scandal, and the Vatican has said it would do everything in its power to bring justice to abusive priests and to protect children.

German bishop offers to resign

A leading conservative Roman Catholic bishop in Germany has also offered to resign amid allegations of physical abuse and financial misconduct, the Augsburg diocese says.

Bishop Walter Mixa offered to step down in hopes of allowing a "new start" for his diocese. He said he would co-operate fully with investigators and offered an apology.

"I ask the forgiveness of all those to whom I may have been unfair and to those who I may have caused heartache," Mixa wrote, acknowledging he was "fully aware of my own weaknesses."

The Vatican does not comment on possible resignations.

Mixa has been accused of hitting children while a priest decades ago. He initially denied ever using violence against youngsters, but later acknowledged he may have slapped them.

Although the case doesn't involve allegations of sexual abuse, Mixa has been a key member of Germany's Bishops Conference for more than a decade and his initial denial of physical violence fuelled frustration among German Catholics who saw it as evidence that the church was unwilling to come clean on abuse.

Adding to Mixa's troubles, a special investigator has found financial irregularities at a children's home under his responsibility around the same time as the allegations of abuse.

Mixa said in his letter he would support efforts for a "thorough investigation" into all the accusations.

Pope named in U.S. lawsuit

In Milwaukee, a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he was abused by a Wisconsin priest accused the Pope and other officials of failing to protect children.

The plaintiff, identified as John Doe 16, alleged he was abused repeatedly by Rev. Lawrence Murphy, who taught at the Milwaukee-area St. John's School for the Deaf from 1950 to 1974. Murphy died in 1998, and was accused of sexually abusing about 200 boys at the school.

The suit claims that then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and other officials, knew about the allegations against Murphy and conspired to keep them secret. The suit does not offer proof to back that claim.



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