Irish bishop begs forgiveness

2010-03-24 22:24
Irish Bishop John Magee, 73, has been accused of mishandling complaints against priests in his diocese of Cloyne. (AP Photo)

Irish Bishop John Magee, 73, has been accused of mishandling complaints against priests in his diocese of Cloyne. (AP Photo)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dublin - An Irish bishop who was private secretary to three popes begged forgiveness from victims of child sex abuse in his diocese on Wednesday, as his resignation was accepted by the Vatican.

Bishop John Magee, who stepped aside a year ago pending an investigation into abuse claims, said he hoped that the probe's findings would help "towards healing for those who have been abused".

"As I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies to any person who has been abused by any priest of the diocese of Cloyne during my time as bishop or at any time," he said in a statement.

"To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon," added the 73-year-old bishop, whose diocese is in southern Ireland.

His comments came as the Vatican said the pope had accepted the resignation of Magee, who served as private secretary to three successive pontiffs - Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.

Magee reportedly found John Paul I's body in 1978, when he died after only some 30 days in office - although it later emerged that a nun found the Holy Father dead, and Magee denied that he was the first to discover the corpse.

His resignation was accepted under a church law requiring the departure of a bishop who, due to "illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfilment of his office", said a Vatican statement.

Child sex abuse

Ireland, a predominantly Catholic country, has been rocked by two successive reports in the last year on child sex abuse stretching back decades, and on Church leaders' complicity in covering it up.

Magee's resignation follows that of Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick last December.

In earlier abuse scandals, Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns in south east Ireland quit in 2002, while the Irish government fell in 1994 amid a controversy over a paedophile Catholic priest, Brendan Smyth.

The Cloyne cleric said he tendered his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on March 9 and was informed on Wednesday that it had been accepted - shortly before the Vatican announced it in a statement.

"I welcome the fact that my offer of resignation has been accepted, and I thank the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese for their support... and assure them of a place in my prayers always," he added.

He noted that he had taken "full responsibility" in December 2008 for criticisms contained in a report by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.

Cardinal Sean Brady, Ireland's top Catholic churchman, thanked Magee for his "contribution to the work of the Irish Bishops’ Conference over the past 20 years, particularly in the area of liturgy.

Inadequate response

"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," he added.

Magee stood aside last March and the Vatican appointed another Irish cleric, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, to govern his diocese temporarily, while an official Commission began investigating abuse claims.

The Commission is still examining alleged abuse in the Cloyne diocese, according to its website. A spokesperson said its findings should be finalised by the end of June, when they would be handed to the government.

Magee's resignation came four days after the pope issued a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics voicing "shame and remorse" over the paedophilia scandal and said bishops had made grave errors in their response to allegations.

Since the Irish cases emerged, abuse scandals have come to light in the pope's native Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland.


Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope benedict xvi  |  ireland  |  child abuse

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:


There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.