Friday, December 25, 2009

Many sorry to see departure of man who 'helped community'

FROM EARLY morning yesterday in Carlow, Jim Moriarty’s future as Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin looked ominous.

News bulletins on local radio station KCLR reported that he had failed to record his traditional Christmas message for the diocese. An announcement was said to be imminent.

A curate Fr John Cummins said morning Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption for a congregation of about 40, mostly elderly, parishioners. Afterwards, he said that he had “heard all the media speculation” but had “no further information”.

On the old Dublin Road, close to the town centre, two gardaí maintained a discreet presence as media representatives gathered at the entrance to the bishop’s home.

His house, a modest bungalow surrounded by a high stone wall and protected by electronic gates, was not visible from the street.

A priest, who did not wish to be named, said that the bishop had left by car earlier for an unknown destination.

At the neighbouring newsagent, Brian Blake said the bishop was a “gentleman” and he “would be sorry to see him go”.

He said that the bishop sometimes walked to the shop on Sundays to buy newspapers, but normally his housekeeper came to collect The Irish Times on weekdays.

At noon, diocesan secretary Fr Jim Kemmy arrived at the entrance to the bishop’s residence but declined to talk to the media.

It later emerged that the bishop had travelled to Portarlington, Co Laois, to meet priests from the diocese where he informed them of his intention to resign.

On the freezing streets of Carlow, reaction to the news was mixed but most people who spoke seemed to be sorry that the bishop was going.

People did not wish to be named. One man described him as “a bishop for the people” who was “up to date and had a sense of humour” and said he would be “sorry to see him go”.

Another man said he had known the bishop for seven years and he did not think that he should have resigned because he “was not incriminated by the Murphy report”.

At the open-air farmers’ market, a middle-aged woman said she had been “bothered by the [Murphy] report” and thought he was “right to resign”. But another lady said she wished “to say only one thing – I hope he doesn’t”.

The strongest support for Bishop Moriarty came from a group of teenagers. A young man, aged 17, who goes to Mass “every Sunday” said: “I think it’s silly” for him to resign and described the bishop as a man “who helps the community”.

Vicky (15), who had been confirmed by Bishop Moriarty, said while she had been “shocked” by the Murphy report, she did not think the bishop should resign but that “it’s up to him if he feels he has been criticised”.

Her companion, Meg (15) said: “He has helped the community quite a bit”.

She would also be “sorry to see him go”, but said “it’s completely up to him”.

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