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Two more bishops resign in Irish church scandal

Christmas marred by civil war within Catholic hierarchy.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, left, flanked by Cardinal Sean Brady, right, head of the Irish Bishops Conference, talks with reporters at the end of a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Saint Peter square at the Vatican, Dec. 11, 2009. Martin had pressured Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field to quit following the release of a report on the cover-up of sexual abuse by pedophile priests in Dublin. Walsh and Field offered their resignations to Pope Benedict on Christmas Eve. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)

DUBLIN, Ireland ― As the few remaining faithful in this once mass-going nation set out for midnight services on a freezing cold Christmas Eve, two bishops announced their resignation, bringing to four the number forced to step down since they were named in a report on the cover-up of sexual abuse by pedophile priests in Dublin.

The bishops are the latest casualties of a civil war within the purple-clad ranks of the once-dominant Irish Catholic Church hierarchy that could have ramifications in the Vatican itself.

Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field offered their resignations to Pope Benedict on Christmas Eve only after fighting a rearguard action against the Archbishop of Dublin, Dairmuid Martin, who has pressurized them publicly and privately to quit. They are accused of being part of a culture of silence and denial about abusive priests that is not peculiar only to Ireland but is worldwide.

The scandal has highlighted the role of the Vatican where this practice of “see no evil” was established by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with an emphasis on protecting church financial assets.

Outrage in Ireland over the actions of individual priests and bishops has consequently also been directed towards the Vatican. This has wider implications for the influence of the Catholic Church in a country where two decades ago there was 90 percent regular mass attendance.

Bitter criticisms of the Vatican and the papal nuncio — both declined to even respond to a letter from the Dublin Archdiocese Commission of Investigation headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy that drew up the report on sexual abuse — have become the staple diet of current affairs programs on radio and television.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/ireland/091225/bishops-resign-irish-church-scandal