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Retired bishop assaulted by passenger on a train in Ireland

Bishop Emeritus of Kerry said to be very shaken by the incident

Bishop Emeritus Bill Murphy of Kerry was punched in the face last month by a drunken passenger angry about the Church’s handling of sex abuse claims, according to the Irish Times.

The retired bishop, aged 79, had been travelling on a train from Killarney to Dublin with his brother, Archdeacon Michael Murphy.

Archdeacon Murphy told the newspaper that a man recognised him and came over to them. “He had quite a lot [of drink] on him. He spoke about being ill. The bishop was reading his office.”

The man left but a short time later returned. “He started giving out about problems in the diocese, and punched him [Bishop Murphy] in the face. He got a shock. But we continued on our way,” Archdeacon Murphy said.

A bystander intervened, he said, and told the alleged attacker to stop. The man was escorted from the carriage by rail staff and later met by police officers at Heuston Station in Dublin.

A spokesperson for Kerry diocese said Bishop Murphy had been very shaken by the incident.

Several years ago priests in Ireland said they were afraid to go out in public because of hostility over the clerical abuse crisis.

Fr Paddy Dunne, communications officer at Raphoe diocese, said he knew of priests in Dublin who had been spat on.

“I know of some younger priests who are afraid to come out or to be seen in public. They stay at home,” Fr Dunne told Highland Radio.

“I know priests in Dublin who have been spat on because they were recognised as priests, but thankfully that has not happened here.”

In a review of child protection in the Diocese of Kerry Bishop Murphy was praised for his handling of clerical abuse claims.

The report, by the National Board for Safeguarding Children, said that Bishop Murphy had “met his responsibilities well”, introducing guidelines as early as 1996.


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