Following the recent meetings between Pope Benedict VXI and Irish bishops on the sex abuse scandal plaguing the Church in Ireland, Bishop Jim Moriarty said that it is “not a question of if but when” his resignation will be approved by the Holy Father.
“In regard to my offer of resignation, separate from the general meeting, I had a private meeting with Cardinal Re, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, who is dealing with it,” explained the bishop in a statement on the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin website this past Saturday. “The acceptance of my offer of resignation is proceeding. My understanding is that it is not a question of if but when. It will not happen immediately but should not go too far beyond Easter.”
Bishop Moriarty had tendered his resignation to the Holy Father on December 23.
Twenty four Irish bishops recently attended meetings with Pope Benedict in Rome on sex abuse cases involving minors within the Church in Ireland and the failure of the bishops to properly address the situation. Participants in the discussions unanimously agreed that “this grave crisis has led to a breakdown in trust in the Church’s leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel and its moral teaching,” said a Vatican statement on Feb. 16.
During the gathering, each of the bishops was given the floor to express his individual concerns and hear feedback from the Holy Father and the members of the Roman Curia.
“In my own contribution,” Bishop Moriarty recalled, “I explained how my offer of resignation came about and spoke about the need for unity and a deeper sharing of the mission that transcends the kind of clerical culture that led us here.”
He also referred to the upcoming apostolic letter that Pope Benedict is writing to the Church in Ireland and how his diocese plans to respond while he is still in office. “I am seeking ideas about how priests and people might engage with the letter from the Holy Father and how together we might identify some tangible initiatives that might follow. This might involve forums at parish, deanery or diocesan level,” he said.
Bishop Moriarty concluded his Feb. 20 statement by saying “As always we keep the survivors in our prayers at this time and pray that this Lenten season may be a time of true renewal in the Irish Church.”