Monday, 31 May 2010

Another Bishop Resigns - In Nigeria

Africa has not been in the news much over abuse in the church. However, there are many reports of widespread flouting of rules on celibacy. Now, there is news that a bishop in Nigeria, Richard Burke of Benin City, has resigned following a sexual scandal. He denies that there ever was any question of "abuse", but only of a broken vow of celibacy, as the partner involved was an adult of  21 when the relationship started. She says she was much younger.

From the BBC:

The Vatican has accepted the resignation of an Irish archbishop in Nigeria accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the Niger Delta.
Richard Burke, the archbishop of Benin City, admits to a relationship but denies she was a minor when it began.
"The reason for my resignation is that I have been unfaithful to my oath of celibacy," he said in a statement in the Irish Catholic newspaper.
The Irish Times puts both sides of the story:

She says
 The woman making the allegation, Dolores Attwood (41), now lives in Canada with her husband and three children. In a detailed statement last October she accused the archbishop of having abused her in 1983 when she was 14 and a patient in hospital. She also alleged he had abused other young Nigerian girls.
He says:
he and Mrs Atwood “had a caring relationship that began in the latter part of 1989, when she was 21 and I was 40. I was posted back to Ireland in March 1990 and returned to Nigeria in April 1996. In the last 20 years, Mrs Atwood and I met on seven occasions. On three of those occasions our relationship was again expressed sexually. This was entirely inappropriate behaviour and it is something for which I am truly sorry.”
"Entirely inappropriate", indeed. The problem is, for an ordained priest, there is no possibility of an "appropriate" sexual or even emotional relationship with anyone.  

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