Vatican rejects resignations of bishops accused of Irish cover-up

The Vatican has rejected the resignations of two Irish auxiliary bishops following their reported involvement in the Roman Catholic Church's cover-up of child abuse.

The Vatican's rebuff deals a blow to Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin and a veteran Vatican diplomat who was appointed in 2004 to lead Ireland's most populous diocese through a storm of child abuse scandals. From the start he has clashed with predecessors who oversaw a culture of concealment.

"Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops," the Most Rev Martin said in a letter to Dublin priests this week.

Aides to the Archbishop said neither he nor the auxiliaries were available to comment. The letter said the two would be "assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese," but offered no specifics.

An Irish investigation into Dublin Archdiocese cover-ups published in November named more than a dozen current and former bishops as responsible for failing to tell police about more than 170 suspected pedophiles in the priesthood.

The Right Rev Walsh and the Right Rev Field initially rejected criticisms of their conduct but failed to receive public backing from Archbishop Martin. Their resignation offers were read out to worshippers at Christmas Mass. The Most Rev Martin's relations with his two deputies have reportedly frayed during the long wait for a verdict from the Vatican. He has not appeared publicly with the bishops since December.

The Pope did accept the resignations of Donal Murray of Limerick and James Moriarty of Kildare, both former Dublin auxiliary bishops.