VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee, 73, from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland, the Holy See reported today.
Since last year, the bishop has been involved in an investigation for the cover-up of abuse cases in his diocese.
On March 7, 2009, Bishop Magee announced that the Pope had named as diocesan administrator Archbishop Dermot Clifford of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, to whose ecclesiastical province the Diocese of Cloyne belongs.
Bishop Magee retained his title at that time, but withdrew from the governance of the diocese so as to “dedicate my full time to the matter of the inquiry,” he explained.
The prelate stated at that time that this appointment was due to his petition since the investigation would “entail quite an amount of work for me.”
In the Cloyne Diocese it had come to light that there had been cases of sexual abuse of minors on the part of at least two priests that had not been investigated by the bishop.
On January 7, 2009, the government asked the Commission of Investigation, which studied the cases of child abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese, to extend its inquiry to the Cloyne Diocese.
In his public declaration two months later, Bishop Magee affirmed his desire to “give every possible cooperation to the commission in carrying out its task.”
In response to today’s announcement, Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, acknowledged “the long and varied ministry” of Bishop Magee, who served as head of the Cloyne Diocese since 1987.
The cardinal continued: “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,” the prelate added, “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.”
This is the first formal resignation after the publication of a pastoral letter from Benedict XVI on Saturday, regarding the abuse of children in Ireland.
In it, the Pope, addressing the bishops, acknowledged that “grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred.” He asked the prelates to “continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence.”
The resignation was in accordance with canon 401, paragraph 2 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that “a diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”