Pope Benedict XVI has decided not to accept the resignations of auxiliary bishops Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh of Dublin. Field and Walsh submitted letters of resignation last December in the wake of the Murphy Report , an investigative summary that revealed a culture of cover-up surrounding rampant clergy sex abuse in Ireland. Auxiliary bishops Field and Walsh resigned just 24 hours after having their competence directly and publicly questioned by their superior, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Archbishop Martin says the two men are now to be assigned “revised responsibilities.” This sounds familiar, does it not? Revise, reposition, rearrange – as long as no direct responsibility is taken for explicit failure, it’s par for the Curial course. Only in the Catholic Church does the concealment of criminals and criminal, psychopathic behavior land someone with “revised responsibilities.”
A quick survey of public reaction to this issue shows that very few people would care if these auxiliary bishops were let go. And let me emphasize, they themselves offered to leave their positions. Sure, it was likely a reluctant move, but does that deplete it of fidelity or integrity?
What’s astonishing is the continued arrogance of Church officials who protect insiders and blatantly defy the wishes of all others concerned. And what of the others who should be heard the loudest and clearest? Haven’t the victims themselves requested the resignation of all men in governance of the archdiocese when abuse was concealed? A minor detail, I suppose.
The fear, of course, is of a domino effect. Pope Benedict XVI and other leaders are afraid that if everyone who is responsible has to fully and appropriately accept responsibility, the Church could not bear the weight of such consequences. Maybe it could, maybe it couldn’t. Either way, “fearfully” is no way to run a religious organization.