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Irish bishop to quit over abuse report

Moriarty accepts that he failed to react properly

By Shawn Pogatchnik
Associated Press / December 24, 2009

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DUBLIN - A second Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland announced yesterday he will resign in the aftermath of a damning investigation into decades of church coverup of child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese.

Bishop Jim Moriarty revealed his decision to priests and other church officials in his diocese of Kildare and Leithlin, southwest of Dublin. Church officials said Moriarty planned to travel soon to Rome to tender his resignation directly to Pope Benedict XVI, who has sole power to hire and fire bishops.

Moriarty said he accepted the investigators’ finding that he failed to react properly when told about abuse cases, particularly of one priest convicted of molesting girls in 1997. But he insisted that his inaction reflected his colleagues’ poor communication and secrecy.

“It does not serve the truth to overstate my responsibility and authority within the archdiocese,’’ Moriarty, 73, said. “However, with the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.’’

Last week Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick resigned, becoming the first high-profile casualty of a government-ordered probe into the church’s failure to tell authorities about more than 170 suspected child abusers in the Dublin priesthood. That 720-page report, published Nov. 26, examined the cases of 46 pedophile priests in detail. It found that church leaders in Dublin chronically shielded them from the law for decades until 1995, when public anger forced the church to begin handing its files on some cases to police.

Abuse victims welcomed Moriarty’s resignation but emphasized that they believe three other bishops named in the report must quit, too. Five other Dublin bishops identified in the report have already retired, and several others are dead.

The report found Moriarty guilty of inaction in the face of abuse complaints, particularly involving the Rev. Paul McGennis. The investigators’ search of Dublin church records discovered that the church began keeping internal records of McGennis’ pedophilia as early as 1960, when he was caught taking pictures of naked girls.

The report found that Moriarty received renewed abuse reports against McGennis in 1993 but did nothing. McGennis was convicted in 1997 of abusing two girls and served half of an 18-month prison sentence.