Bishop Eamon Casey
FORMER BISHOP STEPS DOWN TO FIGHT ALLEGATION
By William Scholes, Religious Affairs Correspondent
FORMER bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey, has stepped down from ministry in a parish in England after an abuse allegation relating to his time in Ireland was made against him. He is now planning to return to Ireland to fight the allegation, of which no details are known.
Fr. Casey (78) was forced to resign as bishop of Galway in disgrace after fleeing to Ecuador in 1992 because it emerged that he had fathered a child with an Irish American divorcee, Annie Murphy.Their son Peter was born in 1974, when Fr. Casey was Bishop of Kerry.
He left Ecuador, where he had been working with the American missionary Society of St James the Apostle, in 1998. Fr. Casey then returned to parish ministry when he was offered a place in the English diocese of Arundel and Brighton by its then bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor, who has since been elevated to cardinal and is primate of the Church in England and Wales.
The present Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Kieran Conry, said Fr. Casey had stepped down after being told about the allegation by one of the Church’s child protection officers, a post created in response to the clerical abuse scandal. However, the allegation against Fr. Casey is not necessarily one of sexual or child abuse. It is understood Gardai have not contacted Fr. Casey about the complaint.
Dr Conry said a report had come from Ireland that an allegation had been made against Fr. Casey, who has been working in the parish of St Paul’s in Staplefield, Haywards Heath, for around six years
“Fr. Casey said he’d step aside, and not complicate things for the parish,” he said.
The former bishop is now living in a house owned by the diocese while waiting to see if an official complaint is made. “He’s shocked, himself, but he’s at peace because he knows he has nothing to answer,” Dr Conry said.
A statement was issued to parishioners on a Sunday to explain Fr Casey’s departure.
“He has been extremely popular in the parish, and a very good worker in the local hospital and he will be very greatly missed while he’s not working,” Dr Conry said. He also said Fr. Casey had not planned to return to Galway for the funeral recently of his successor as Bishop of Galway, Dr James McLoughlin. Catholic Primate of Ireland, Sean Brady, has declined to comment on the development.
It is thought Fr. Casey had intended to retire to Ireland in the near future.