Bishop aknowledges resignation may be necessaryDecember 23, 2009 - 10:18am
THE Bishop of Galway, Rev Martin Drennan may have to resign through his ‘guilt by association’ as a former Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin mentioned in the Murphy Report into child sexual abuse.
Bishop Drennan had said that there was no need for him to resign as he believed he had done nothing wrong and that in fact, the Murphy Report had found that his handling of one particular case involving complaints against a priest had been appropriate.
However on the Keith Finnegan Show on Galway Bay FM last Friday, Bishop Drennan conceded that his resignation might indeed be inevitable through “guilt by association” though he maintained throughout the hour long interview that he had not set out to hurt anyone, had ensured guidelines into the handling of sexual abuse allegations against the clergy introduced in 1996 were adhered to and that the Murphy Report was not critical of him at all.
“I feel different to the other four Auxiliary Bishops mentioned in the Report as my handling of one particular case was found to be correct and appropriate . . . but if there is a mass resignation called for, yes, it could come to me resigning,” he said.
Bishop Drennan served as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Dublin Diocese between 1995 and 2005 before he came to Galway as Bishop.
He is one of five Auxiliary Bishops mentioned in the Murphy Report and to date one of those bishops, Donal Murray of Limerick has announced his resignation.
On Thursday, Bishop Drennan met with the priests of his diocese for a two hour meeting where he was told parishioners needed more information and that people were asking questions, which is why he decided to talk on the Keith Finnegan Show.
He explained that as an Auxiliary Bishop he was involved in pastoral care of priests who were sick or in difficulty and was in contact with parishioners, feeding information back into the system which would help in the placing of priests in parishes etc.
He met monthly with other bishops in the diocese to discuss complaints and allegations and to ensure guidelines were rigorously adhered to but he wasn’t aware of the details of all sexual abuse allegations, though he was aware that there were a number of complaints made in the diocese.
Though he and an Advisory panel advised the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Desmond Connell, all decisions were ultimately made by the Archbishop.
“Yes, mistakes were made within the system because like all systems, there is good and bad but people did the best they could. The Murphy Report has criticised management structures which it said were inefficient as was the sharing of information and though the Report also says there was a cover-up, I don’t believe there was or that we ‘minded’ the abusers.”
He said the Murphy Report had been tough and that he was most uncomfortable with what was in it. “I feel deeply stressed and upset that the ideals we had on ordination day have been tragically ignored and destroyed and I am ashamed that some priests could do what they did.
“But I am comfortable with my own role and believe that my integrity is intact and that the Report is not critical of me. I have no regrets about my time in Dublin as I have very happy memories of those years,” he said.
He said he believed there was complete transparency within the Dublin Diocese after the Church introduced its guidelines in 1996, though he added that he wasn’t aware of the all of the abuse that had been going on or had been complained of as “information was scanty” and the ultimate decision rested with the Archbishop.
“I don’t see how the fall-out of Bishop Murray’s resignation has helped to heal or give closure to anyone. Prosecution will bring justice but vengeance doesn’t bring healing but if there is a call for mass resignation, yes, it could come to my resignation,” he said.
Bishop Drennan said that his priests supported him and that if he could continue to bring unity and be of service to the diocese, he believed his resignation wouldn’t serve any purpose.
Calls to the programme were mixed with half of the callers asking for the Bishop’s resignation.
A poll carried out through The Connacht Tribune showed that 72% of people believed Bishop Drennan should resign in the wake of the Murphy Report.
On Monday, further calls were made by a victim of clerical abuse for all bishops mentioned in the Report to resign on the grounds that they were aware of the extent of the abuse and did nothing to call a halt to it.