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DROMORE, County Down, Northern Ireland (ChurchMilitant.com) - A northern Irish bishop is resigning after backlash over his association with a sex-abusing priest.
Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore in County Down announced Thursday he was stepping down as bishop: "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect."
"I shall make further comment in due course," said McAreavey.
His resignation comes weeks after he regretted offering the funeral Mass in 2002 for Fr. Malachy Finnegan, accused of 12 claims of physical and emotional abuse of minors. McAreavey said the first claim of abuse came in 1994, the second in 1998 and the others after Finnegan's death in 2002.
In a statement, McAreavey said:
It is their testimonies and their stories which have impacted most on me. It is through their perspective that I realized that my decision to say the funeral Mass of Malachy Finnegan in 2002 was the wrong one. In November 2002, a victim told me how hurt he was by this; I realized that I had made an error of judgement. It is something I regret and will not repeat.
Finnegan worked at St. Colman's College in Newry as a teacher from 1967–76 and was president from 1976–87. A BBC Spotlight program on the priest was broadcast in February and included three interviews with his alleged victims.
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