Call for final Irish bishop cited in child abuse report to resign

By staff writers
December 30, 2009

The last remaining bishop mentioned in a damning official report on the systematic failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland to deal with child abuse in its institutions, is facing insistent and repeated calls to step down.

Dr Martin Drennan, the Bishop of Galway, was one of five bishops cited in the Murphy report which lifted the lid on decades of unreported child abuse within the Archdiocese of Dublin. The other four have now resigned.

The diocesan communications manager, Fr Seán McHugh, has told The Irish Times the bishop was “strong in his belief that he did nothing wrong”.

But the CEO of victim support group 'One in Four', Ms Maeve Lewis, says Dr Drennan should do the “honourable thing” and leave his post.

“How many children were abused in Dublin between 1997 and 2005 when he was in a position of authority?” she is quoted by The Irish Times as saying.

“It will be immeasurably damaging to both survivors and the Catholic Church if this process is dragged out indefinitely." said Ms Lewis.

She added: “We call on all concerned to provide real moral leadership by finding the courage to acknowledge responsibility for their actions and inactions and to resign immediately.”

Another abuse victim, Marie Collins, told the Belfast Telegraph and other reporters that it was now up to Pope Benedict XVI to demand Bishop Drennan's resignation.

"If the Pope leaves him in place, it will mean that there is no change because he has to go," she declared.

Andrew Madden, a further victim, also challenged Bishop Drennan's claim that by the time of his appointment as a Dublin auxiliary in 1997, child protection structures were already in place.

"The framework document of 1996, which Bishop Drennan refers to, was flawed and Cardinal (Desmond) Connell told the commission it was not binding in canon or civil law so he could follow only those guidelines he wanted to follow," he commented.

Mr Madden said he had emailed Bishop Drennan asking him to invite 60 victims of sexual abuse by priests in Dublin to meet him in Galway.

"Bishop Drennan advises against anger and adds insult to injury when he describes our calls for accountability as vengeful," said Mr Madden.

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