Statement to media on VOTFI report on Derry Bishop Dr Seamus Hegarty to Rome, October 2006

Deeply concerned about a number of issues in their diocese of Derry, lay Catholic members of the organisation ‘Voice of the Faithful’ have reported these matters to Pope Benedict XVI and the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.

Dr Seamus Hegarty, Bishop of Derry, is currently in Rome, with all of Ireland’s Catholic bishops, to discuss the problems of the Irish church with the Pope and the Curia. During this visit the Pope meets privately with every bishop.

In their report, Voice of the Faithful in Derry express concern to Rome over the following matters:

  • Dr Hegarty’s failure to act on the recommendation made by Pope John Paul II to all Irish bishops in 1999 to set up structures which would give Ireland’s lay Catholics a greater sense of belonging to their own church;
  • His failure to advance in the diocese proposals for support for victims of sexual abuse announced by all the Irish bishops in February 2005 in the document ‘Towards Healing’;
  • His failure to act on an undertaking he gave to the diocesan ‘Ministry and Change’ consultation group in 2003 to implement a model of collaborative ministry in the diocese (i.e. priests and people together);
  • The appointment of a priest of the diocese against whom two allegations of sexual abuse had been made to a role in counselling victims of sexual abuse in 2001;
  • Contradictory statements made by Bishop Hegarty in a TV interview in February 2005, relating to diocesan contributions to an abuse compensation fund;
  • Dr Hegarty’s failure to respond in 2004 to correspondence from 50 young members of a Derry Catholic youth movement;
  • His failure to make adequate provision for adult faith development in the diocese.

An abridged version of this VOTF (Ulster) report to Rome can be viewed on the organisation’s website.