Irish bishop apologizes to abuse victims and retires from post

The Holy Father officially accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland on Wednesday. The Irish Bishops’ Conference had already reassigned his powers and duties in March of last year.

Official news of the Pope’s acceptance of the bishops resignation request came at noon local time in Rome.

Following the announcement, Bishop Magee released a message through the communications office of the Irish bishops’ conference.

He expressed his “sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the Diocese of Cloyne” during his time there or “at any time.”

He begged “forgiveness and pardon” of any person he has failed or made suffer through any omission.

The bishop repeated that he takes “full responsibility” for criticisms regarding management of cases of sexual abuses within his diocese that were brought to light on December 24, 2008 in a report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Among those who had been calling for his resignation for the mishandling of complaints of abuse was Irish Fr. Michael Mernagh, who drew attention to the matter when he staged a nine-day walk from the Cloyne diocesan see of Cobh to Dublin shortly after the report’s release.

Archbishop Dermot Clifford had been appointed by Pope Benedict as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cloyne on March 7, 2009, in response to Bishop Magee’s request for relief from his duties. The bishop said that he had done so to be able to dedicate his time to cooperating with the Government Commission of Investigation on child protection procedures.

On Wednesday, Archbishop Clifford thanked Bishop Magee for his assistance over the past year and wished him “all God’s blessings” in his retirement.

Cardinal Sean Brady also acknowledged the “long and varied ministry” of Bishop Magee and expressed his gratitude to the bishop for two decades of service to the Catholic Church of Ireland.

He added that “foremost” among his thoughts, however, “are those who have suffered abuse by clergy and those who feel angry and let down by the often inadequate response of leaders in the Church.”

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