The caretaker bishop appointed this week by Pope Francis to take over from Bishop John McAreavey in the diocese of Dromore has indicated that he will give special priority to responding to people who have been abused by Church.

Bishop Philip Boyce, who has been brought out of retirement to manage a growing scandal around Dr McAreavey's handling of a paedophile priest, acknowledged his predecessor's 19 years of ministry there and prayed that God might bless him.

Preaching at this morning's Annual Chrism Mass in Newry, Dr Boyce reminded Dromore's priests that normally they meet their bishop at the traditional Holy Thursday blessing of holy oils.  

The 78-year-old retired Bishop of Raphoe told them that he was not their bishop, "but a person sent as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese…. until the new bishop is appointed". 

Dr McAreavey resigned earlier this month following public protests by victims of Malachy Finegan, who served as president of St Colman's College in Newry, Co Down.

The bishop had been criticised McAreavey for celebrating Mass twice with Finegan in public despite a Church ruling restricting the disgraced priest to private ministry.

Dr McAreavey also celebrated Finegan's funeral mass in 2002.

Former president Mary McAleese and Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy are among those who have called for an independent inquiry into the allegations against Finegan.

Dr Boyce was previously criticised in 2011 by the Catholic Church's child protection watchdog for his handling of abuse allegations in Raphoe while he was bishop there between 1995 and last year.

Yesterday, a retired priest living in the Dromore diocese described Dr Boyce's appointment as "disgusting" in light of his handling of allegations against Fr Eugene Greene, who was jailed for 12 years in 2000 after pleading guilty to 41 sample charges against 26 victims between 1962 and 1985.