THE Bishop of Kerry has admitted he was embarrassed as he stooped to kiss Pope Benedict’s ring during the visit of the Irish bishops to the Vatican.
Dr Bill Murphy said he was surprised with the protocol but he followed his fellow bishops who bowed to kiss the papal ring.
"When it came to my turn, the person before me did it and I kissed his ring as well even though I was rather embarrassed by it," Bishop Murphy remarked.
He said when he previously met Pope Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, he was greeted with a handshake.
Bishop Murphy said he was sure the pope would also have preferred to avoid the ancient kissing of the ring custom when he met the bishops in Rome.
"Some people still try to kiss a bishop’s ring but, obviously, it’s out of touch with modern thinking," Bishop Murphy stated.
The bishop, meanwhile, has rejected claims from abuse survivors that the meeting in Rome was nothing more than a charade.
He said the gathering was "very serious and significant" and he conceded the Catholic Church might have been at fault for not lowering the "exaggerated and unrealistic expectations" of the public in advance.
The bishop said he is confident that Pope Benedict will offer a very sincere and profound apology to abuse victims in a letter he expects will be received in Kerry within the next three weeks.
Bishop Murphy said the Irish bishops were shown a draft copy of the pope’s letter and had made several comments on it which will be taken into consideration by Pope Benedict as he finalises his letter.
Meanwhile, Kerry man John Prior, who was one of the main whistleblowers in the Church sex abuse scandal, has branded the Rome meeting "a junket and a smack in the face" for abuse survivors.
"I thought they had learned their lesson. I thought the Church had a great chance of survival but that has gone way back because people are sour about what happened," he told The Kingdom.
"It was glamorising the Church – it was like a catwalk. All they are doing is digging a deeper and deeper hole for themselves. It’s one big cover up after the next. It’s a catastrophe of the highest order," Tralee-based Mr Prior claimed.
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