By John Cooney and Aine de Paor
Friday August 13 2010
ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin did not inform other Irish bishops that he had been told by Rome of Pope Benedict's refusal to accept the resignations of two Dublin auxiliary bishops named in the Murphy Report.
The only communication of the Pope's decision to reject the resignations of Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field was directly to Dublin clergy in a private letter which he sent on Tuesday before going on holiday.
A spokesperson for the archdiocese said yesterday that Archbishop Martin would not be giving any media interviews on the rebuff to his authority by Pope Benedict.
Meanwhile, senior members of the hierarchy confirmed that they were in the dark about the Vatican decision until it was leaked in the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper.
"There is some chuckling in episcopal palaces around Ireland that Martin has been put in his box by the Vatican for making a big issue of securing the resignations of bishops who had served in the archdiocese of Dublin," said one senior church source.
"Diarmuid is now isolated and finds himself a lame-duck leader of a divided diocese," the source added.
But other church sources, said that as this was a matter for the Archdiocese of Dublin, Archbishop Martin was under no obligation to tell his fellow bishops of the Pope's refusal.
Meanwhile, protests are being organised by a church reform group and abuse survivors.
Brendan Butler, a Catholic activist, told the Irish Independent that he is planning a protest tomorrow at 3pm outside the residence of the papal Nuncio, Archbishop Guiseppe Leanza in Cabra, Dublin, where he will deliver a petition calling for the Vatican to reverse its decision to reinstate Bishops Walsh and Field.
And an abuse survivors' group has called on the two auxiliary bishops to stand down, even if that would mean their leaving the Catholic Church.
Kevin Flanagan, of Religious Abuse Truth, is organising a letter-writing campaign to urge them to reject the Pontiff's wishes and quit.
The group plans to picket the papal nuncio's residence to protest against the decision not to accept the the bishops' offer to quit after they were named in the Murphy Report into the cover-up of clerical sex abuse.
Mr Flanagan's brother, Mickey, was a survivor of the Artane Industrial School and, according to the campaigner, drank himself to death at the age of 59 as a result of the abuse he suffered there. He said: "It's an absolute joke. I am asking everybody to write to the two bishops and ask them to just resign themselves.''
Mr Flanagan admitted that by going against the Pope's wishes, the bishops could fall foul of the church and be forced out. "They have to have a conscience themselves. It's the same as if a priest wants to leave the church then he can leave -- so what's to stop the two bishops from leaving?" he asked.
Mr Flanagan said those who feel strongly about the issue should write to the two bishops and urge them to quit.
Last Easter his group staged a protest at Dublin's Pro-cathedral when 1,000 children's shoes were tied to the railings and campaigners interrupted Mass to place them on the altar.
- John Cooney and Aine de Paor