Bishop Magee apologizes; 'I beg forgiveness'
August 23, 2011
Bishop John Magee has apologized for the clerical abuse that took place during his tenure as Bishop of Cloyne. Appointed to the see in 1987, he retired under pressure in March 2010 amid reports of a continued effort to cover up abuse.
“To the victims I say I am truly horrified by the abuse that they suffered,” he said in his first interview since last month’s release of the Murphy report on abuse in his former diocese. “It all came to me very clearly when I read the complete report.”
“And if by my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines I have made any victims suffer more, on my bended knee I beg forgiveness,” he added. “I am sorry.” Bishop Magee also offered to meet privately with victims.
“I feel ashamed that this happened under my watch. It should never have and I truly apologize," he said. Reiterating what he had said in a brief public statement after the Cloyne report was published, the bishop acknowledged the report's criticism of his role. He said: "I accept in its entirety the commission’s view that the primary responsibility for the failure to fully implement the church procedures in the diocese lay with me."
At the conclusion of his statement, Bishop Magee disclosed that he is now living in a home in Mitchelstown that has been "kindly provided for my used by the diocese." He ended with a plea: "Now I ask for some privacy."
The bishop's statement failed to satisfy his critics, who said that a short expression of regret was not enough. Maeve Lewis, the director of the victims' group One in Four, said that Bishop Magee still seems unable to "get the gravity of his failures." Father Tony Flannery, speaking for the dissident Association of Catholic Priests, agreed that "we don't feel it's enough."
A spokesman for the Irish bishops' conference, on the other hand, welcomed the statement from Bishop Magee.