Sunday 9 June 2013


Father Matt Wallace (69) the parish priest of Turf Lodge, Belfast, died on Friday June 7th 2013 in his parish presbytery. The death of any human being is always a tragedy and a sadness. . The death of anyone by suicide is even more tragic and more sad. It is also a great mystery.

Sadly Belfast has been plagued for a number of years now by the scourge of suicide. Dozens of young people have taken their lives in West and North Belfast. Ireland, for some reason, in a world leader when it comes to suicide. Wonderful work is being done by professionals and volunteers to try and address this plague. I'm sure many people's have been saved by such organisations as PIPS - the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm.  But obviously much much more needs to be done.

Many of our families have been affected by this tragedy. A number of years my own nephew, Christopher took his own life in his early 20's. My sister Margaret has never gotten over the experience and indeed she never will.

My first "call out" as a priest was to a 17 year old boy - a student of a prestigious boarding school - who had taken his own life. Thirty seven years later I can still picture him lying dead on the dorm wooden floor. 

It has been clear by the outpouring of tributes to Father Matt that he was loved and appreciated by so many people. 

I first met him 35 years ago when I cam to Belfast. He and I were not friends. He had been unkind to me and about me over the years. That was probably because he was a loyal member of the clergy club and I was not. But in spite of that I was genuinely sorry to hear of his untimely and tragic death.

Matt was very human. He loved his cigarette, his tipple, his flutter on the horses etc. 

After his death people have been asking what drove him to such a length that he felt he could no longer go on living? People are asking: "Was there no one he could have talked to"?

It is strange that in a diocese of 3 bishops and nearly 200 priests there was not ONE priest that Matt felt he could go to and talk to. That must make us bishops and priests ask ourselves: "Where are we going wrong"? "How can we have failed Matt and others like him"? Are we too busy with unimportant things? "Why have we become so unapproachable"? "Why can't a fellow priest lay his brokenness and vulnerability before us"? Of course already there are rumours circulating among the clergy and journalists!

The story that led to Matt's final sad hour may or may not become known.

We Christians are better not to dwell on the "whats","buts" and "ifs". We know that Father Matt has already appeared before his Lord and had his sins forgiven and is now in Heaven with all those he knew who went on before him. 

But at the very least, let Matt's passing be a stark reminder to us that we are all "our brother's keeper"  and as we go through our daily lives let us be keenly vigilant so that we can recognise a brother or sister who may be at the end of their strength and let us provide a pair of arms for them to fall into.

Bishop Pat Buckley. Sunday 9.6.2013


  1. I find your post hypocritical given the last one you published about Fr Wallace and his departure from Holy Trinity parish in August 2012 due to ill health.

    1. Cathy not ill he hanged himself and y u ask we'll never now ill miss him );

    2. Cathy,

      The blog I wrote in September 2012 was highlighting Matt Wallace's "disappearance" and basically asking for news, enlightenment etc.

      If you read the front page of today's IRISH NEWS you will see that the police are seeking a man in connection with a five figure sum of money.

      I keep my ear very close to the ground on church matters and hear from many people, including some Down & Connor priests, on many issues.

      A strong battler of a man like Father Matt does not kill himself on a whim. There is a cause of all this and I think that the public deserve to know the whole story - which they will in time.


    3. With every respect Pat I was referring to your mentioning that Fr Matt started his priesthood in the Ferns diocese. At no stage did you talk about what was contained in The Irish News, which clearly stated that Fr Matt was NOT connected to the misappropriation of parish funds.

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  3. Your Lordship,

    I was interested to learn from your blog that Fr Wallace has, 'Had his sins forgiven...and is now in heaven'.

    The Council of Trent has stated that no one can no the Eternal Destiny of a soul unless, 'By a special revelation of God'. Given that view from a Church Council I am wondering how you know with such certitude that Fr Wallace has had a meeting with Jesus, been forgiven his sins and is now in heaven and how you can state these facts with such certitude?

    Also given that there are nearly 200 priests and three Bishops in the Diocese how you can again know with such certitude that the late Father Wallace did not go and talk to any of them before his sad demise?

    In anticipation for you Excellency's response,

    Padraig Caughey

    1. Padraig,

      Since the Council of Trent which ended in 1563 there has been Vatican 1 and Vatican 11 and theology, not to mention medical science has learned a great deal more. Most intelligent and compassionate people know that when a person ends their own life it has to be the result of an unbearable pressure that does things to the mind we cannot fully understand.

      Of course you are right - I cannot know that Father Matt did not speak to some cleric. But if he did it was not enough to help hi.

      Having being a priest for 37 years I do know how difficult it can be for a priest to talk to another priest and it maybe even harder for him to talk to a bishop.

      I think the priests who spoke at Father Matt's funeral yesterday expressed how lonely and under pressure most priests feel at the moment - and I don't think that a priest under pressure would turn to the statements of the Council of Trent for comfort.

      You kindly asked how my legal proceedings are going. Of course they are sub-judice so I am limited in what I can say publicly. I am strongly contesting the accusations and if you watch the newspapers I'm sure they will keep you up to date. Or indeed, you could pop down to my "palace" in Larne for a cuppa and I can bring you up to speed.


  4. PS

    I wonder how how Lordships legal proceedings are progressing after you January Court Appearance for sham marriages, money laundering and alleged fraud ( in relation to alleged involvement in more than a dozen marriages in which foreign nationals entered into bogus marriage contracts in order to obtain EU residency rights}?

  5. I join others who wonder how the bishop knows this priest's disposition in eternity. He of all people should know that it is heresy to claim this kind of knowledge. Unfortunately, the feel-good attitude plaguing modern society in the West pushes many priests to indulge this kind of thing at today's funeral Masses. The faithful are confused enough as it is without adding these off-hand and off-base comments into the mix.

    1. Johhny,

      Of course you are correct. I cannot infallibly declare Father Matt's disposition in eternity. But I have a overwhelming belief in the compassion, understanding, forgiveness and love of God. Did you ever come across Father Faber's lovely words:


      There's a wideness in God's mercy
      like the wideness of the sea;
      there's a kindness in his justice,
      which is more than liberty.
      There is welcome for the sinner,
      and more graces for the good;
      there is mercy with the Savior;
      there is healing in his blood.

      There is no place where earth's sorrows
      are more felt than in heaven;
      there is no place where earth's failings
      have such kind judgment given.
      There is plentiful redemption
      in the blood that has been shed;
      there is joy for all the members
      in the sorrows of the Head.

      For the love of God is broader
      than the measure of man's mind;
      and the heart of the Eternal
      is most wonderfully kind.
      If our love were but more faithful,
      we should take him at his word;
      and our life would be thanksgiving
      for the goodness of the Lord.

    2. Your Lordship previously stated that the late Fr Wallace had met up with Jesus ,, been forgiven his sins and ended up in heaven.

      Now his Lordship is saying he 'of course' has no way of knowing where Fr Wallace's soul has wound up

      Now his excellency has a 'feeling' maybe he might have wound up above.

      I grow confused , your Lordship, where is he?

  6. So sad he was a great man I'm 12 he was my priest in primary school

    1. Declan,

      I am very sorry to hear that you are so upset and sad. You obviously liked Father Matt very much. Now that he is in Heaven he can even be a more powerful friend to you. Just talk to him - he can hear you - and ask him to help you in your life and in all that you need.


  7. Mairead Emmanson16 June 2013 at 13:54

    Anyone that had the privilege of ever knowing fr matt is utterly devastated by his death. A man like him can't go anywhere else other than heaven. He welcomed my first child Into the Christian faith after he was born sleeping and said his mass of the angels, he did this because I asked for him he was never my parish priest. And at my sons graveside fr matt was still able to make me & my family laugh as only he could. We should not dwell on
    how he died this is irrelevant its how he lived his life
    and what a life that was.
    Rip Fr Matt always loved & never forgotten

  8. Mairead,

    Thank you for your comment and for having the courage to put your name to it.

    We can only judge people by how we find them and it is quite clear that Matt was a great priest for you and your family.

    1. Mairead Emmanson16 June 2013 at 20:51

      And you forget the whole community he was a part of, I've yet to come across someone that has a bad word to say about Fr Matt, he was a fantastic man, if only we had more like him, priest or not he was a legend and always will be.

  9. After some years absence, I was given back the gift of faith through the example of Father Matt -his Christian generosity, charity, love of the common man. I loved attending his masses and whatever troubles or worries I had at particular times I always emerged from his mass with a smile on my face. He was a great priest and human being and will be so sorely missed by West Belfast and beyond. Any innuendos,or rumours about his death are more indicative of the character of the person mentioning them than of an attempted slur on the character of Father Matt. He always stood by his people and his people will stand by him, defending his good name and reputation. Rest in Peace, Father Matt -'a good and faithful servant'.

  10. Fr Buckley, THE EYES ARE THE WINDOWS OF THE SOUL, Fr Matt walked in the Footsteps of God, Can You truly and honestly say the Same. Would your funeral be as packed as what his Funeral was, and by that I mean, not the priests, But the People, themselves .
    Deep down inside, we all truly know, even tho we may deny it, what`s in our hearts and souls, and the kind of person we are.
    I guess really at the end of the day. no matter how much you lie to yourself, You can`t lie to God.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I don't expect my funeral to be as packed as Father Matt Wallace's was.

      I expect there will be no bishops and very few priests there - Thank God.

      Are big funerals really the sign of how good a man was?????

      Take Jesus for example - there were only 5 people at His funeral - Mary His Mother, Mary Magdala the prostitute, Mary His cousin, John - the disciple Jesus loved and Joseph of Arimaathea.

      So Father Matt had a bigger funeral than Jesus

  11. Why do you insist on calling yourself a Catholic Bishop. Your episcopal ordination has never and will never be recognised by the Catholic Church. You have set yourself firmly outside the communion of Rome and have consistently defied the orders of the legitimate ordained Catholic primate of your dormer diocese. You ignore some of the teachings of the Church and cherry pick others when it suits you.

    Your excommunication is still extant and until you abide by the teachings you claim to follow and the Church you continue to defy you will remain outside the flock leading your followers away from the truth you claim to profess will set them free.

  12. Paul, Bishop Pat can call himself a Catholic Bishop because he is one. It is called Apostolicity! Communion with Rome!! Does Apostolic Authority reside in Rome! Someone should inform our 'Ecumenical' partners of this development ASAP. Many ecumencial documents need to be revised ASAP, particularly BEM. As for the primate in the Diocese - just like my own Diocese there is a Bishop, a primate is a Canon LAW term (Not SACRED SCRIPTURE) it is to do with Bishops Conferences etc and that resides in Armagh! Is Pat excommunicated? You seem to have some legal knowledge? I wonder how my Bishop is not; he facilitated in the coverup of child abuse (many cases - evidence currently in Rome, Ian Elliott, Garda Síochána & PSNI). I suppose we can all rationalise that away bacause his intentions were legal, he followed CANON LAW, not Scripture, Morality or decency! Rome has serious issues to deal with. Perhaps we no longer deserve the titil CHURCH. I must ask the WCC! Perhaps there needs to be a code of conduct for Churches. Then again we don't recognise other Churches, we call them ecclesial communities, we have it every what way LEGALLY!!!!!

    1. Apostolicity is dependent on MUTUAL communion. In the case of 'bishop' Pat there is no such mutual communion. In addition Canon Law requires there to be a recognition of the authority of the Bishop of Rome for such communion to exist and for mutual those seeking communion to be alligned to a recognised eclestiatical or faith communion. 'Bishop' Pat fulfils neither of those requirements. Apostolic authority through apoltolic succession does reside in Rome. Many faith communions recognise this and some allign with Rome in communion with that Apltolic succession and authority.

      A primate is a church appointment, established in the fledgling church with the appointment of elders and leaders such as St Peter and other primates. While the established principle may have been adopted in the later Code of Canon Law which normified accepted and accredited practices, it does not in any way negate its authority and place within the church handed down by the early Fathers of the church. To suggest that a primacy is merely to do with conferences is to show a distinct lack of understanding of the role, its formation, its authority and its place within the early and modern church.

      You suggest I have legal knowledge even though there is nothing in my comments to point you in that direction. But as you raise the issue, anyone who sets themeselves againt the teaching of the church excommunicates themeselves regardless of where a formal bull of excommunication is issued by the local ordinary or by Rome.

      To roll out the old chestnut of my priest did this and my bishop did not, is a weak argument. the sins of one should not be visited against another. As Jesus says, 'Let those of you who are without sin case the first stone' those who facilited in the cover up of child abuse DID NOT follow canon law and their intentions were not legal as both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have repeatedly said. to suggest otherwise if to subvert the truth and perpetuate a lie.

      contrary to your suggestion Rome does recognise other churches. those in communion with Rome are recognised as churches. It is their lack of Apostolic succession that is
      at issue.

      No church is perfect including ours. But if we are to improve it, as the Church, we must firstly accept its core teachings and then attempt to improve it from within and not be setting ourselves against it or outside it and bestowing on ourselves titles in an effort to legitimise our actions.

    2. Thank God for some theology, even though it is 'apologetic' nonsense! I profoundly disagree with your premise - you clearly understand CHURCH as being the ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH and those SHE recognises! I must read Dominus Iesus again. I am Catholic, not Roman Catholic, what does this mean? It means that the Catholic Church the oldest and largest insitution in the world is not limited by class, race or NATIONALITY (Roman or otherwise). It reaches out to all of humanity (universal.)I join Agustine of Hippo (354-430) in saying "I exist in all languages: my language is Greek, my language is Syrian, my language is Hebrew. My language is that of all peoples, for I exist in the unity of ALL peoples" (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 147. 19). Catholicism belongs to ALL who confess the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed derived from the first council and all that! Used by ALL Christians at sometime during their liturgical year/norms particularly Eucharist in its many forms - this Creed as you know declares a common faith in the 'one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church'. That is the confession of ALL CHRISTIANS around the worldwide/Catholic CHURCH! One point that I contest in your discussion is that all the elements of the CATHOLIC CHURCH are within HER, NOT TRUE, many of the elements are found beyond the boundries of pontifical theological prisons of the 'ROMAN' element! Any claim that the 'ROMAN' element and blind obedience to that element and all 'AUTHORITY' reigning from it is contested as you know, one e.g. being that of Orthodox Christians. Does five hundred years of Reformed tradition (you probably use the term Protestantism), raise any radical issues for those who claim to embody Christian or Catholic identitiy? I would advise you to at least approach this debate with a degree of nuanced confessionalism! Even though you are being respectful, I know that! As for Apostolicity, what claim are you making about the 'Roman' element when you say it is Apostolic? The desriptor 'apostolic', was in fact, the last of the so-called notes of the church to be included in the creed! Apostolicity is not a biblical term but was coined to make certain points about the church as it emerged from Judaism and defined itself over the various religions in the Roman Empire - it was a tool of CONTROL and I see that you are asserting that same tool in order to control and hold claim to legitimacy (LEGALISM). Apostolicity does NOT reside in the ROMAN element of the Catholic church and it is not bestowed by, assessed or controlled by this Roman element. Why is the Oratory Society 'apostolic', by reason of ORIGIN! The Church was founded by 'APOSTLES' - NOT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, however, she herslef shares in this common origin! To read to most advanced work on this look at the work of 'The Methodist-Catholic Dialogue' team - I also advise you to read outside the theological prison of the ROMAN element, it is like gainig freedom for the first time. We all have a duty to work towards 'unity' - not 'uniformity or control', even 'ut unum sint' holds the spirit of respectfully historical encounter of Christian diversity. Respectfully, ME!

    3. Thank God somebody in our catholic church still has a bit of decent theology.

      I think that poor Woosie should change their name to WOOLIE


  13. Mr Buckley, you truly are a most nauseating specimen. I would not be in your shoes on the Day of Judgement.

  14. Dear Anonymous, like me you must be a Priest and unable to 'reveal' yourself for fear of the clerical club as the saying goes. I have only one thing to say to you about this above comment: argumentum ad hominem! Never be afraid of debate, we are no longer the defined as an 'unequal society', John XXIII defined us as the 'People of God'. Let our internal life reflect our external life and the converse be equally yoked.
    Signed, admirer of Bishop Pat.

  15. The greatest admirer of Mr Buckley is HIMSELF! A conceited buffoon with a dressing up in bishop's clothes fetish going on. Not even his mail-order "bride", Ting Tong Macadangdang, could stick him too long. Anyone who 'admires' Mr Buckley is as sick, deluded and dysfunctional as he is.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      The tone of your message says it all and says more about you than I.

      One correction for accuracy - my partner and I are now 6 years together and it is over 3 years since we celebrated our Civil Partnership. Sorry to disappoint you - we are very much together and very happy.

    2. Dear Anonymous, I am very uncomfortable with your tone in your recent blog. I fail to see any theological debate or point. I live a Christian life and the best I can do is 'Thank You' from the deluded and dysfunctional person who admires Bishop Pat. As I am not a lover of polemical argument I shall leave it there. The only thing I can advise is that always hold on to Christian principles even in debate and on the debate issue, once again always avoid argumentum ad hominem as Bishop Pat is also avoiding argumentum ad populum. As for what you said to Bishop Pat about his partner, very bad taste! But perhaps you see this as 'catholic apologetics'? It is void of Charity & Love.

  16. Mr Buckley, you are as far removed from Our Lord as darkness is from light. You are a Liar - every word out of your ugly mouth is a lie.

    1. Lets allow Our Lord to make that judgement???

      Bishop Pat

  17. Dear anonymous of the 27th June - as you know darkness does not exist, light does. Darkness is only the absence of LIGHT! However, if you are going to SPIRTUALISE PHYSICS at least do it half intelligently!

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