Everything OK? Just checking. Everything still OK?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 30, 2009

The "Murphy Commission" report on the handling of sex-abuse complaints in the Dublin archdiocese was particularly rough on one former auxiliary: Bishop Donal Murray, who now heads the Limerick diocese. The commission saw his handling of one priest, Father Tom Naughton-- now a convicted molester-- as "inexcusable." In a Limerick Today radio interview, Bishop Murray defended his record.

When he first heard a complaint against Naughton, the bishop recalled, it was only a complaint that he was too chummy with his altar boys. The parishioners who brought that complaint, the bishop continued, "weren't suggesting anything wrong was going on." (Well then what were they suggesting? Why were they lodging a complaint with the auxiliary bishop?)

Despite that reassurance, Bishop Murray didn't let the matter drop. He asked the pastor about Naughton's behavior, and was reassured again. So he asked the pastor to question other parishioners and provide a fuller report. The pastor did so, and (as Bishop Murray reports) gave an extremely positive report on the young priest. So then Bishop Murray called Naughton in, to remind him that " you have to be very careful about anything you are doing that is causing parents to be concerned."

What's wrong with this picture? At every stage, the bishop reports that his inquiries produced reassuring results. Then why did he keep inquiring?

Soon thereafter, Father Naughton was transferred out of the parish. But no disciplinary action was forthcoming. Bishop Murray explains: "Nothing happened to him because we hadn’t an allegation." Right. Nobody ever said that anything was wrong. Yet the bishop kept asking.

Bishop Murray has learned well from his American brothers. Asked to explain why so many people think the Irish hierarchy engaged in a conspiracy of silence, he replies that "it's worth saying that the report also says that communication at that level was poor, in other words the individual auxiliary bishops did not know." Ah, yes: faulty record-keeping; poor internal communication. Sound familiar? There's more: "I would say that I hope we are all on a learning curve."

Some things we learn; some things we know already.

"No. I certainly never was involved in a cover-up."

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 01, 2009 3:21 PM ET USA

    The shame in Ireland has resounded in Boston`s sons and daughters of Ireland, what a huge disgrace for both. Why? Because the peasant culture regarded priests as the only well educated in the area, who are not to be questined. But coming up out of this culture is a new awareness that clerics are often all too human and one should check them. Now as to canon law protecting The Church first, that`s a given. It`s no longer the way The Church can rule, and would not have come into play without s

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2009 8:20 PM ET USA

    If there is "poor communication", why would that be? I've noticed that bishops who embarrass us (or worse) tend to surround themselves with the heterodox. Now, Christ came to the sinners, but he didn't limit himself to them.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2009 4:18 PM ET USA

    "poor communication" doesn't necessarily mean the "individual auxiliary bishops did not know" - it could also mean the individual auxiliary bishops didn't TELL.