fire him-- and give him a gold watch

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 25, 2010

After Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Cloyne's Bishop John Magee, who had thoroughly botched the handling of sex-abuse complaints, Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, issued a statement, which is herewith reproduced in its entirety.

“I wish to acknowledge the long and varied ministry of Bishop John Magee in the Church. I thank him for his contribution to the work of the Irish Bishops’ Conference over the past twenty years, particularly in the area of liturgy. I assure him of my prayers at this time and wish him good health in his retirement.

“However, foremost in my thoughts in these days are those who have suffered abuse by clergy and those who feel angry and let down by the often inadequate response of leaders in the Church.”

Having read that statement carefully can you point to any sign, any intimation that Bishop Magee ended his "long and varied" episcopal ministry on something short of a high note? That he was not the very model of a modern Catholic bishop? Feel free to read Cardinal Brady's statement again if you like…
Need a hint? There's one word-- and one word only-- that betrays the existence of a problem.
Give up? It's the first word in the second paragraph: "However." Having praised Bishop Magee, the cardinal signals that there is some discontinuity between his respect for the outgoing bishop and his concern for the victims of sexual abuse. Reading between the lines, the astute analyst can infer that Bishop Magee was among the Church leaders guilty of an "inadequate response."
The astute reader can draw that inference, I say, because the cardinal never makes the point openly. And why not? The reason for Bishop Magee's premature resignation is no secret. Although the bland Vatican announcement only pointed to the now-familiar Canon 401-2, everyone knows that the Irish bishop has been removed because of his gross mishandling of sex-abuse complaints.
Day after day after wearisome day the Church is being hammered in the world's major media for failing to take action on sexual abuse. On those rare occasions when a bishop is called to account for that inaction-- and everyone knows it-- there's absolutely nothing to be gained by hesitating to acknowledge that reality. 
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  • Posted by: - Mar. 26, 2010 8:46 AM ET USA

    What interests me most about the above statement is this sentence: "I thank him for his contribution to the work of the Irish Bishops’ Conference over the past twenty years, PARTICULARLY IN THE AREA OF LITURGY." What did this bishop do there--does anyone know?

  • Posted by: I am Canadian! - Mar. 26, 2010 1:49 AM ET USA

    Why is parochus' comment allowed? There should be no place to advocate murder on this site, regardless how hideous the crime. This is the mentality of the crowd who demanded Jesus executed and while necessary for our salvation was a great miscarriage of justice. Something we never, ever want to repeat. Remember that this next week coming up.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 25, 2010 10:00 PM ET USA

    Anent your headline re the gold watch: we should not forget that when Cardinal Law finally resigned because of the pesthole over which he presided in Boston, he was taken to Rome as archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, given a palazzo across the street, and (presumably) the stipend that goes with the job. It was reported at the time that his predecessor made $400,000 per annum. John Paul the Great was Pope at the time and Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the C. D. F..

  • Posted by: parochus - Mar. 25, 2010 6:37 PM ET USA

    Putting his head on a spike in front of St. Peter's would send a message.

  • Posted by: howland5905 - Mar. 25, 2010 6:13 PM ET USA

    To what extent can the Pope or other authorities in the Church discipline bishops? It's my understanding that there are significant limits. It would be interesting to read something on the issue. Does anyone know of a good discussion of the subject?