December 23, 2009 / 4:40 PM / in 8 years

Second Irish bishop offers to quit in abuse scandal

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A second Irish bishop named in a damning report into child sex abuse by priests offered his resignation to the Pope on Wednesday.

Bishop Jim Moriarty, who was due to retire in two years, said that while the report did not criticize him directly, he should have challenged the “prevailing culture” that allowed criminal acts against children to take place.

Last week Bishop Donal Murray became the first bishop to quit since the publication of the report, which said Church leaders in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland had covered up widespread sexual abuse of children by priests for 30 years.

“Fundamentally it is about how the leadership of the (Dublin) Archdiocese failed over many decades to respond properly to criminal acts against children,” Moriarty said in a statement on the website of his Kildare and Leighlin diocese.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I accept that, from the time I became an Auxiliary Bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.”

The report, issued on November 26, said the archdiocese had been more preoccupied with protecting the Church’s reputation than safeguarding children and had “obsessively” hidden child abuse from 1974 to 2004.

Moriarty served as an auxiliary (assistant) bishop in the archdiocese of Dublin for 11 years, until 2002 when he was appointed to Kildare and Leighlin.

The report said the inappropriate behavior of a priest, who admitted taking photographs of children changing at his house, was reported to Moriarty. The bishop then warned the priest about his behavior and advised him to stop such activities.

It found that when the complaints were received he did not ask Archbishop Desmond Connell to check the archives relating to the priest -- given the pseudonym Father Edmonus in the report -- which would have revealed previous accusations of abuse.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Padraic Halpin; editing by David Stamp

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