A Roman Catholic bishop in Ireland has resigned after an investigation into child sex abuse by clergymen accused him of ignoring reports of crimes by priests in his diocese, the Vatican said Thursday.
The one-line announcement that Bishop Donal Murray had resigned did not mention the scandal.
But a statement that Murray read to colleagues and curates in the western Irish city of Limerick left no doubt that he was going because of an Irish government investigation's damning findings about his time as an auxiliary bishop in Dublin from 1982 to 1996.
"I know full well that my resignation cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day," the 69-year-old Murray said. "I humbly apologize once again to all who were abused as little children."
Murray had been widely expected to resign following last month's report from a government-appointed commission. It ruled that Murray had handled reports of child-abusing priests "particularly badly" — and condemned his failure to crack down on one particular abuser, the Rev. Thomas Naughton, as "inexcusable."
Convicted twice of raping boys
Murray transferred Naughton to new parishes despite receiving reports that he was molesting children. Naughton since has been convicted twice of raping altar boys.
The investigation found that four other serving bishops and five retired bishops, including Cardinal Desmond Connell, played a role in a decade of cover-up.
The report said church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese failed to inform authorities about sexual abuse by priests, while police failed to pursue allegations because they considered church figures to be above the law.
The leader of Ireland's four million Catholics, Cardinal Sean Brady, said he was praying for Murray and offered his own apology "to all who were abused as children by priests, who were betrayed and who feel outraged by the failure of church leadership in responding to their abuse."
One abuse survivor, former altar boy Andrew Madden, said Murray's resignation was not enough and other church leaders should quit too.
He called for the immediate resignation of four other serving bishops who were based in Dublin during the period investigated: Jim Moriarty, Martin Drennan, Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field.
"Their continued presence in office is an insult to every child sexually abused by a priest in the Dublin Archdiocese. They display a contemptible level of arrogance and a shocking lack of humility," Madden said.
But all four bishops have said they have no intention of tendering their resignations to the pope. Unlike Murray, the other four bishops were not found to have bungled any specific abuse reports.
‘Outrage, betrayal, and shame’
The Vatican has been harshly criticized in Ireland, a nation of staunch Catholic traditions, for failing to answer letters from the Dublin Archdiocese investigators.
Last week, the Vatican described Benedict as being "deeply disturbed" by the sex-abuse scandal and said he will write a letter to Catholics in Ireland with the Holy See's response. It said also the pope shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by many Irish faithful.
Benedict issued that statement after meeting at the Vatican with senior Irish clergy to discuss possible resignations of Murray and other Irish bishops criticized in the Dublin Archdiocese investigation.
The 720-page report found that dozens of church leaders in Ireland's most populous diocese kept secret the record of child abuse by more than 170 clerics since 1940.
Police and social workers charged with stopping child abuse didn't start getting cooperation from the church until 1995. This opened the floodgates to thousands of abuse complaints expected to cost the Dublin Archdiocese 20 million euros ($30 million).
The leader of an American group campaigning against Catholic cover-ups of pedophile priests welcomed Murray's resignation but said it wasn't nearly enough.
"Wounded adults and vulnerable children need widespread reform, not sacrificial lambs," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.