Statement by Bishop Donal Murray on his resignation as Bishop of Limerick

17 Dec 2009


17 December 2009

Statement by Bishop Donal Murray on his resignation as Bishop of Limerick

Bishop Donal Murray has today, 17th December 2009, confirmed that the Pope has accepted his resignation with immediate effect as Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick. Bishop Murray’s resignation has been announced by the Holy See today at 11 a.m.

Announcing his decision to a congregation, including priests of the Diocese, people working in the Diocesan Office and the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, at 11 a.m. in St. John’s Cathedral, Bishop Murray said: “I met the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on Monday 7th December.  I asked him to bring my resignation as Bishop of Limerick to Pope Benedict.  The Holy Father has accepted my resignation which takes effect from this morning at 11 a.m. Irish time.

“I have heard the views of many survivors, especially in the days following the publication of the Murphy Report. Some expressed the wish that I should resign; others asked me not to do so.  I know full well that my resignation cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day.  I humbly apologise once again to all who were abused as little children.  To all survivors of abuse I repeat that my primary concern is to assist in every way that I can, on their journey towards finding closure and serenity.

“A bishop is meant to be a person who seeks to lead and inspire all the people of the diocese in living as a community united in the truth and love of Christ.  I asked the Holy Father to allow me to resign and to appoint a new bishop to the Diocese because I believe that my presence will create difficulties for some of the survivors who must have first place in our thoughts and prayers.

“Let my last words as Bishop of Limerick be those I spoke in St. Joseph’s on 29th November last: ‘We are people who believe that God’s mercy and God’s healing are without limit. We are meant to be bearers of that hope to one another and especially to people whose trust was betrayed when they were just little children and who endured the terror, helplessness and suffering inflicted by a frightening and dominant adult. They should always have a special place in our prayers’.”

+Donal Murray


Neither Bishop Murray nor any diocesan spokesperson will be making any further comment.

The following is a chronological order of how Bishop Murray arrived at this decision:

Bishop Murray took some time to study the Murphy Report after its publication on Thursday 26th November.  The following is a chronological order of how Bishop Murray arrived at this decision:

  • On Sunday 29th November he said: “ far as I am concerned the question of whether I should resign is a question of whether my presence here is a help or a hindrance to the diocese of Limerick”.  He since listened to the views – which arrived directly, by letter, text, email and telephone – of many people in and, indeed, outside the diocese, not least survivors of clerical sexual abuse. He is grateful to all who responded.
  • Bishop Murray informed the Vicars General of the Diocese on the afternoon of Tuesday 1st December of his decision to offer his resignation.
  • On Wednesday 2nd December, Bishop Murray contacted the Apostolic Nuncio, asking him to set about arranging a meeting with the Congregation of Bishops in Rome. 
  • This meeting took place on Monday 7th December; Cardinal Re agreed to present Bishop Murray’s letter of resignation to the Pope on Saturday 12th at his weekly meeting with Pope Benedict.
  • On Monday 14th December, Bishop Murray visited the Congregation once more and received the news that the Holy Father had acceded to his request.
  • Cardinal Re agreed that it would be appropriate for Bishop Murray to return to Limerick in order to be present in the diocese at the time of the announcement of his resignation by the Holy See today, Thursday, 17th December.
  • Bishop Murray has expressed his appreciation to Cardinal Brady who was unfailingly supportive and helpful to him during this time.

Please see reflection by Bishop Murray “ON THE NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED” reissued on 17th December 2009