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VATICAN CITY (RNS) An Irish Catholic bishop criticized in a recent report on clerical sex abuse apologized to victims on Thursday (Dec.17), the same day the Vatican announced his resignation.
“I humbly apologize once again to all who were abused as little children,” Bishop Donal B. Murray of Limerick said at St. John’s Cathedral, adding that he had resigned because “I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers.”
Murray was one of a number of church leaders criticized in the Murphy Commission report, issued last month, which found a pattern of clerical physical and sex abuse from 1975-2004 that had been covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin, at times with the collusion of the Irish police.
The report said the church had placed greater importance on protecting its reputation and maintaining secrecy than on children’s welfare or justice for victims. Starting in 1940, four successive archbishops of Dublin were aware of complaints, the report said, but church authorities failed to implement most of their rules for dealing with abuse.
The report faulted Murray for his failure, while serving as an auxiliary bishop of Dublin, to act on sex abuse charges against the Rev.Thomas Naughton, who was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for abusing a boy at least 70 times in the early 1980s.
Thursday’s announcement from the Vatican said Murray had stepped down in accordance with a church law calling for the resignation of a bishop “who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause.”
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI expressed “outrage,” “shame,” and “profound regret” over the report’s revelations, which Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said would lead to a “very significant reorganization of the church in Ireland.”
Murray’s resignation is a “small but significant first step,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, “but wounded adults and vulnerable children need widespread reform, not sacrificial lambs.”
Irish media have suggested that four other present or former auxiliary bishops of Dublin could eventually resign as a result of criticisms in the report.
By Francis X. Rocca
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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