At times I have failed my priests – Bishop

John McAreavey speaks candidly of his shortcomings

Pope Francis’ frank admission of his failings as a young Jesuit superior has prompted one of Ireland’s best known bishops to go public on how he has “failed” his priests.

In a remarkably candid interview with The Irish Catholic Dr John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore for the past 14 years, revealed he has hurt priests by his decision-making style.

“In terms of communication the worst way to communicate is to write,” he said.

He said he had made decisions himself about “parish issues” and announced them by writing letters to priests without consulting them.

Bishop McAreavey admitted it would have been far better to have talked about such matters first.

“There have been times when I have hurt priests. I realised afterwards it would have been far better and more prudent to have talked and listened more.”

In his first interview since returning from a seven month sabbatical he said: “One of the things you have to learn when you are in a position of authority is the impact of what you do, what you say, what you write.”

Dr McAreavey added: “Obviously when this has happened I have apologised and I have gone to priests personally and said look, I have got that wrong and I am really sorry to have upset you.

“The issue is about learning how to exercise authority in a way that is sensitive and respectful and I think you learn obviously from your mistakes.

“I think I am learning all the time,” he said.

The bishop said he took “some comfort” from the Pope’s admission about his previous mistakes in Argentina.

In the interview, he also speaks frankly about the lessons he had learned from the clerical sex abuse crisis and about the impact of the murder of Michaela McAreavey, late wife of his nephew, John.