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Irish bishop resigns over handling of sex case

The bishop of the Wexford-based diocese of Ferns has resigned following criticism over his handling of sex abuse allegations that followed the airing of a BBC television documentary.

Announcing his resignation yesterday at the Diocesan, he said he had found Fr Sean Fortune "almost impossible to deal with".

"The sexual abuse of children is deeply abhorrent to me. I apologise also to the families of victims and to all others who have been offended or hurt in different ways by Fr Sean Fortune," he said. "I can only assure you that I did my best. Clearly that was not good enough."

The priest commited suicide in 1999 while on bail facing 29 charges of serious sexual assaults on young boys.

Archbishop Sean Brady and Cardinal Desmond Connell of the Irish Episcopal Conference condemned the "grave and repugnant evil" of child abuse by priests and said the affair had damaged the reputation of the church.

In a joint statement they said: "We realise that the whole Church in Ireland is suffering at this time from the scandal caused by this evil and the manner in which it was dealt with at times. It is a scandal which has evoked entirely justified outrage."

Dr Comiskey said he had confronted Fr Fortune regularly, removed him from ministry, sought professional advice and "tried compassion and firmness". He said he would travel to the Vatican later this week to formally to hand in his resignation.

Statement from Archbishop Sean Brady and Desmond Cardinal Connell
Diocese of Ferns


2 Apr 2002