Pope rejects Dublin bishops' resignations

Image caption,
The pope has not explained why he rejected the resignations

Pope Benedict XVI has not accepted the resignations of two Irish bishops who resigned at Christmas.

Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field announced their resignations on Christmas Eve 2009.

The pair, who were both auxiliary bishops of Dublin, said they hoped their resignations would help bring peace to the victims of sexual abuse.

They were bishops during the period covered by the Murphy Commission which examined abuse in the Dublin diocese.

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin was set up in 2006 to investigate how Church and state authorities handled allegations of child abuse against 46 priests over a period from 1975 to 2004.

'Revised responsibilities'

The Murphy Commission mentioned five bishops in its report, criticising them for their handling of allegations of abuse against clergy.

Bishops Walsh and Field were the third and fourth to offer their resignations.

Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray resigned in December after the report branded as "inexcusable" his failure to deal effectively with a priest suspected of being a paedophile.

It found that during Dr Murray's time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996, he was dismissive of complaints about a priest who went on to abuse again.

James Moriarty, the Bishop of Kildare, also offered his resignation to Pope Benedict in December. It was accepted in April.

Bishop Moriarty, who was auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, was barely criticised in report, but said he "should have challenged the prevailing culture".

On Wednesday, the Irish Catholic newspaper said it had seen a letter sent to priests in the Dublin diocese by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin telling them of the Pope's decision.

"Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as Auxiliary bishops," the letter read.

Archbishop Martin went on to say the two men are "to be assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese".

Deirdre Kenny of the One in Four group, which offers support to survivors of sexual abuse, said it appeared to be an "extraordinary decision by the Vatican".

"I think it certainly demonstrates the amount of conflict there is within the organisation around accountability," she said.

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