BISHOP John Magee’s decision to step down as Bishop of Cloyne does not go far enough, his critics said last night.
Sex abuse victims’ charities continued to insist he resign over the way he handled allegations of abuse against members of his clergy.
The Vatican announced early yesterday that Bishop Magee will relinquish his diocesan powers to an apostolic administrator, Thurles-based Archbishop Dermot Clifford. Dr Magee will retain the title of Bishop of Cloyne.
Organisations such as One in Four and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre have called for his resignation since severe criticisms against his diocese appeared in a Catholic Church-commissioned report last June.
The National Board for Safeguarding Children concluded his child-protection practices were ‘inadequate and in some respects dangerous’.
Despite calls in recent months by Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Government ministers that he ‘review’ his position, Bishop Magee had steadfastly refused to resign.
The move announced yesterday, claimed the bishop, was at his own instigation so that he could dedicate his time to a Government commission of inquiry into child protection practices at Cloyne.
But last night, One in Four executive director Maeve Lewis said: ‘He should resign fully.’
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop agreed, adding: ‘I don’t know why the Pope didn’t go the whole hog and remove him entirely.
‘We have consistently called for his resignation.’
As well as retaining his title, Bishop Magee will also hang onto his car, his staff and his bishop’s palace residence at St Coleman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Co. Cork, ‘for the foreseeable future’.
In a statement issued on his behalf, he said Archbishop Clifford’s appointment will enable Bishop Magee to ‘devote the necessary time and energy to cooperating fully with the Government Commission of Inquiry into child protection practices and procedures in the Diocese of Cloyne, as he has already committed himself to do’.
And at 6pm Mass at St Coleman’s yesterday, he insisted that everything was being done to ensure proper childprotection practices were fully in place.
And Bishop Magee added: ‘I am conscious of the fact that, as I have to give so much of my time and energy to the task ahead, conducting the normal administration of the diocese, in all its aspects, would prove to be very difficult.
‘ The Cloyne diocese is currently dealing with complaints by six alleged victims of abuse against three priests and a member of a teaching order.