Belief Beat

Less than a week after Pope Benedict sent an apologetic letter to Catholics reeling from a clergy sex abuse scandal in Ireland that spanned decades, Irish Bishop John Magee’s resignation has been accepted.

According to the Associated Press, Magee apologized to victims of pedophile priests kept in parish posts since he took charge of the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne in 1987. Magee remains bishop in name, but his responsibilities have been transferrred. CNN reports that Magee is the second Irish bishop to step down over this scandal, following Bishop Donald Murray’s December announcement; three others have offered resignations, but the pope has not yet accepted them.

Some related links:

–Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent for The Times in London, on why she and some others are “feeling a bit sorry for the Irish bishops.”

–Irish Bible Institute Director Patrick Mitchel shares his thoughts on the future of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Beliefnet blogger Rod Dreher wonders why the pope can’t get rid of more “problem bishops.”

–A New York Times profile of a married Catholic priest in Ukraine, given that these sex abuse cases often stir up the celibacy debate, which always compels me to point out that you already have married priests in the eastern churches (not to mention dozens in America, thanks to a process that allows Protestant ministers to convert to Catholicism). Clergy were not required to be celibate for the church’s first thousand years; Orthodox priests can marry, as long as it’s before they are ordained and they do not want to advance up the hierarchy. Aside from a reluctance to change a longstanding tradition (something the Orthodox can understand!), the only compelling reason I’ve seen for the Vatican not to reconsider celibacy is that it would be extremely expensive to suddenly have to provide salaries and benefits that could support families, plus priests would no longer be as mobile….

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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