Category: Archive

Pope accepts Comiskey resignation

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — The pope has appointed a Dublin bishop to act on a caretaker basis as apostolic administrator of the troubled diocese of Ferns, which is at the center of the latest pedophile priest sex-abuse scandal.

Pope John Paul II has also accepted the resignation of the previous bishop, Brendan Comiskey, who stepped down on April 1 and apologized for his handling of sex-abuse allegations surrounding priests in the diocese over almost two decades.

A former Fine Gael junior minister, George Birmingham, now a leading barrister, has been appointed by the government to advise it on what sort of inquiry should be held into the Ferns controversy.

The appointment of an apostolic administrator by the pope is a temporary one made when “special or very serious circumstance prevent the normal governance of a diocese.”

An administrator governs in the name of the pope and has all the powers of a bishop.

Follow us on social media

Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo

The Catholic information office in Dublin said the pope had accepted Comiskey’s resignation under the Catholic Church’s Canon Law 401/2. It provides that a bishop is “earnestly requested” to step down because of “illness or some other grave reason, [he] has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office.”

It was the same canon law that was used in another church scandal 10 years ago when Bishop Eamon resigned after it was revealed he fathered a son with an American woman.

Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Eamonn Walsh, who takes up the job as Ferns administrator, said in a statement he would fully “cooperate with whatever instrument of inquiry is deemed most appropriate in our search for the truth.”

“It is only when the truth has been established that all of us can move from the crimes that were committed,” Walsh said. “Whereas I have no firsthand information of the abuse cases in the diocese — it is clear that young people were terribly abused by priests and they are understandably still dealing with the anger and paid this breach of trust has caused them.”

Walsh offered his sincere apologies to all the victims.

Comiskey’s resignation followed a British TV documentary that criticized his handling of pedophile priests and highlighted questions about child abuse in Ferns the 1980s and ’90s.

One of the priests at the center of the allegations, Fr. Sean Fortune, committed suicide in 1999 just before he was due to face criminal proceedings. He was facing 66 criminal charges of sexual abuse involving eight boys. The suicides of four young men in the area has been linked to him.

Comiskey said he had “done his best” to deal with the affair, but “clearly that was not good enough.”

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese