‘For the Good of the Church’: Will more Irish Catholic Bishops Resign?

In today’s Irish Times, Mary Raftery has offered a shocking analysis of recent comments by bishops named in the Murphy Report on child abuse in the Dublin diocese. Raftery argues that their public statements reveal a stunning lack of will to assume personal responsibility for atrocities carried out on their watch.

Raftery quotes Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Dr Jim Morarty, who says he if he did resign he would not do so because he did anything wrong, but rather for ‘the good of the church.’

Even more remarkable are further comments today from Bishop of Galway Dr Martin Drennan, who says his conscience is clear and he won’t resign.

Such statements make me wonder what the leadership of the Irish Catholic Church has in mind when it considers ‘the good of the church.’ It seems to me they must be thinking of the institution itself, the people in positions of power.

But ‘the church’ is every bit as much the people who sit in the pews as it is the priests who stand before them – even more so. It is hard for me to understand how the leadership of the church thinks that the spectacle of bishops clinging to their positions is good for the everyday faithful who are praying, worshipping and even questioning their God about what has happened to their church. It would not surprise me if many Catholics were also questioning the goodness of their God to have allowed such a situation.

Regardless, it seems the people in the pews want the bishops to go. This is certainly the case for principals in the Republic of Ireland’s primary schools. According to RTE, in a recent survey of 630 principals:

“80 percent … indicated that bishops named in the report should not continue in their position of school patron.”

William Crawley has called the current spectacle an ‘episcopal bloodletting,’ and ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ With every passing day, it becomes harder for the leadership to regain the people’s trust.

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