Wednesday, 24 July 2013

LIVING AT YOUR CATHEDRAL- AN OPEN LETTER FROM BISHOP PAT BUCKLEY TO BISHOP NOEL TREANOR

LIVING AT YOUR CATHEDRAL - AN OPEN LETTER FROM BISHOP PAT BUCKLEY TO BISHOP NOEL TREANOR
DEAR NOEL,


I WENT AS A CURATE TO ST PETER'S CATHEDRAL BELFAST IN 1978 - EXACTLY 30 YEARS BEFORE YOU WERE CONSECRATED A BISHOP THERE IN JUNE 2008.


FATHER VINCENT MC KINLEY (RIP) HAD JUST BEEN MADE THE ADMINISTRATOR BUT HE WAS ILL AND OFF DUTY. I WAS GREETED BY MY FELLOW CURATE FR JIMMY MC CABE (RIP) A DERRY MAN WHO LATER BECAME PARISH PRIEST OF LIGONEIL.  FATHER MC CABE WAS A GOOD PRIEST - PRAYERFUL, OLD-FASHIONED AND A CHAIN SMOKER.

I ARRIVED WITH NO FURNITURE AND MY BEDROOM AND SITTING ROOMS WERE EMPTY. FATHER MC CABE, THE HOUSEKEEPER AND MYSELF RESCUED A BED AND A FEW CHAIRS FROM THE ATTIC AND I BEGAN MY CURACY WHICH WAS TO LAST 5 YEARS UNTIL 1983.

THE SENIOR CURATE, FATHER JOE MC GURNAGHAN WAS ON HOLIDAYS. WHEN HE ARRIVED BACK HE HAD SOME ADVICE FOR ME:

"YOU'VE COME TO ONE OF THE WORSE PARISHES IN THE DIOCESE. THE PEOPLE HERE ARE AS THICK AS BOTTLED PIG SHIT. SAY YOUR MASS, DO AS LITTLE AS YOU CAN, HAVE A DRINK AND A WANK AND WAIT TO BE MOVED TO A BETTER PARISH".

AS A RELATIVELY NEWLY ORDAINED PRIEST I WAS SHOCKED BY THE CYNICISM :-(

I BEGAN MY MINISTRY IN A PARISH WAS WAS INDEED SUFFERING. DIVIS FLATS HAD AN 83% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AND WAS ONE OF THE WORST HOUSING IN EUROPE. THE "WAR" WAS IN FULL FLOW. ALCOHOLISM WAS A MASSIVE PROBLEM AS WAS THE TAKING OF PRESCRIBED DRUGS - MAINLY BY THE POOR WOMEN. SOME WOMEN HAD SEVERAL CHILDREN BY SEVERAL DIFFERENT ABSENT MEN. 

I SPENT THE FIRST YEAR TRYING TO FIND MY FEET. I QUICKLY REALISED THAT THE WORLD OF THE CATHEDRAL PRESBYTERY WAS A WORLD APART FROM OUR PARISHIONERS. AT THAT TIME THE PRESBYTERY WAS NOT POSH BUT VERY COMFORTABLE. WE HAD WINE EVERYDAY WITH OUR LUNCH. WE HAD SHERRY IN OUR VEGETABLE BROTH EVERYDAY AND EVERYDAY WE HAD BRANDY IN OUR AFTER LUNCH COFFEE.

AT CONFIRMATIONS AND OTHER TIMES WE HAD FEATS FIT FOR A ROYAL FAMILY - STARTERS, MEATS, DESERTS, WINES, SHERRIES, WHISKEYS, BRANDIES, LIQUERS. 

AT THE END OF MY FIRST YEAR IN ST PETER'S I HAD A VERY PAINFUL DECISION TO MAKE - WOULD I BE A CLERGY PRIEST OR A PEOPLE'S PRIEST? 

I DECIDED TO BE A PEOPLE'S PRIEST.

AT THE TIME ST PETER'S AREA AND DIVIS FLATS WAS LIKE A THIRD WORLD SHANTY TOWN- ABSOLUTELY FILTHY IN EVERY RESPECT AND CRAWLING WITH RATS.

I DECIDED TO FORM A DIVIS RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION AND ORGANISE A CLEAN UP OF THE AREA.

ON A MONDAY MORNING MORNING I PUT ON AN OVERALL AND WENT OUT ON THE STREET OPPOSITE THE PRESBYTER AND STARTED TO SWEEP UP THE DIRT. A LADY CAME UP TO ME AND SAID: "YOU CAN'T DO THAT. YOU ARE A PRIEST.YOUR HANDS ARE ANOINTED. I SAID "SOMEONE HAS TO START IT".

SHE JOINED ME AND BY THE END OF THE DAY THERE WERE 500 OF US SWEEPING  AND CLEANING THE STREETS.
CLEANING UP ST PETERS


FOR WEEKS WE WORKED HARD - CLEANING THE STREETS,PAINTING OVER GRAFITTI, FILLING HUNDREDS OF SKIPS WITH FILTH. THE PLACE BEGAN TO LOOK BEAUTIFUL.   A MAN FROM THE GAS COMPANY DROVE IN TO DO A CALL, THOUGHT HE WAS IN THE WRONG PLACE AND DROVE BACK OUT :-)

WHEN WE HAD THE PLACE CLEANED UP WE HAD A WEEK LONG FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND PARTYING.
DIVIS FESTIVAL

EVERYBODY'S SPIRITS WERE LIFTED.

DURING THE CLEAN UP FATHER MC KINLEY AND FATHER MC GURNAGHAN STOOD WATCHING IN THE PRESBYTERY WINDOWS MOCKING US AND GIVING US THE TWO FINGER SALUTE.

I WAS BANNED FROM EATING IN THE PRIEST'S DINING ROOM AND HAD TO EAT WITH THE HOUSEKEEPER IN THE KITCHEN.

ONE NIGHT I WAS PHYSICALLY BEATEN UP IN THE PRIEST'S DINING ROOM.

I WAS NO LONGER WELCOME IN THE PRESBYTERY.

FATHER MC KINLEY AND MC GURNAGHAN REPORTED ME TO BISHOP DALY FOR BEING "DISOBEDIENT" AND "DISRUPTIVE".

I WAS MOVED OUT OF SAINT PETERS.

TWO YEARS LATER I WAS "SACKED" FROM THE DIOCESE.

AND THAT, NOEL, IS WHY YOU AND I - AND THE DIOCESE AND I, ARE ESTRANGED UNTIL THIS VERY DAY. OF COURSE, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT SAYS IN THE FILE ON ME THAT YOU INHERITED.

YOUR BROTHER BISHOP

PAT 

14 comments:

  1. In the New Testament the only kind of membership is members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Cor. 12:4-12). That informs us that being a member is nothing to do with having your name on a list. Church members are people who exercise a gift in the Body of Christ in that place.

    In the NT there is only one church in each city (Antioch, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae, Rome. According to Galatians 1:2 that epistle was addressed to several city or town churches in Galatia, and Titus 3:5 requires elders in each town or city of Crete).

    If we use that model in our city of Belfast and its surrounding country there is only One Church in this place. But our Royal Priesthood gathers for worship and training and encouragement in many different locations. They are called by such strange names as; Anglican, Catholic, Baptist, presbyterian, Methodist etc.I haven't mentioned dozens of others, but already the variety is pretty impressive for a city of Belfast.

    Now if we combine the NT teaching about membership with the NT teaching about only One Church in each city, then it follows that the Church members in Belfast & beyond are all who exercise a gift of the Spirit in this place. And Church membership across Ireland is the sum total of all who exercise gifts of the Spirit in any way quite regardless of what strange name they want to call themselves.

    That means that the mainline denominations are crying uselessly, and the denomination who think they are criticising your Society may be barking up a very stupid tree.

    Pray for each we should.


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  2. Pat, If I were you I would have nothing to do with the Diocese which the above 'Roman bishop' rules in the name of Rome. He himself is powerless to love or hate, he does what he is told to do from Rome. They have so many demons to fight that they make the Mafia look like schoolgirls. Even the Mafia did not ask sexual 'things' of an 8 year old in return the 'man' from the Diocese of Down & Connor would get his family member into heaven.

    Their demons are so serious that it would freeze your very bones. In fact they, like the Mafia have employed a PR company to help them with their image! Not a Church - a human organisation!

    You are Church and your are leading Church, keep going and be free from the dreadful people above and the awful acts and people that they stand over and call their own.

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  3. I cant say I have anything as dramatic in my suitcase of experience to call on as the tale you relate about your first parish in St Peters. I could never say anyone was "out to get me" in St Annes in Sligo. It evolved that in some ways I did not fit in. I could not explain it and they in the parish/diocese could not deal with it. In the end things mushroomed & I left in a cloud of fame/infamy. I was never, thankfully, physically abused or threatened. Towards the end there was some psychological sourness/pressure in the air. As for motivation. I believe things are never black or white. Did I see the possibility of Fame & eternal notiarity? For a brief moment I believe I did. I believe success in life is measured through discernment & not just through a list of achieved aims & objectives. After all the aims are Gods but like many in the Bible I my want to be "king" but my destiny lies far from there. I do not know what tomorrow may bring but I do know I can not sit still. I need to move on

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  4. I write this response in complete charity to my Brother Priest, Pat. I have been ordained for over 35 years and I could tell you some stories. When I was a curate I was in the pocket of the PP, I had no freedom and was nothing but a glorified 'altarboy' to the PP. I could tell you more stories that PP's & CC's said and did to me in their moments of weakness - but they are just that - moments of weakness. I let go of these events soon after they happened. I did speak to those concerned, those in authority and left it with them. I was free thereafter to live my life. I have also had moments of weakness throughout my life, I would be horrified if those concerned repeated the story - healing could not take place, it is like picking at a sore, by the sounds of it this is a very old sore/wound that needs healing.

    I have a brother who is a Police Officer, the stories that he has and how he was treated as a Catholic Policeman would make the hairs on your neck stand to attention, he was treated very badly by some, including threats to life, but he was treated with the greatest of respect and humanity by others. He turned his bad experiences into history not to be repeated and he became a force for positive change within. If he repeats his stories to young policemen/women it is to highlight the positive change that has taken place and a situation never to be returned to.

    All I can say is that these events should never have happened to you, they were wrong. If I was to ask you questions; What is it you want from Bishop Noel on this issue? How can this sore be healed? How can we help you to move on?

    I wish you well Pat, but I am really concerned that we will never move on as long as these sores remain open and if you desire healing at all. I say this with the greatest of charity.

    Your Brother in Jesus Christ.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for commenting.

      "Moments of weakness" - Is assaulting a fellow priest and kicking him on the ground "a moment of weakness"?

      Is it not a crime of assault -perhaps punishable by a prison sentence?

      Is making a fellow priest eat in the kitchen for 3 years "a moment of weakness"?

      We all have moments of weakness.God's knows how many such moments I have had.

      But is years of mental and physical abuse to be called "moments of weakness"?

      Do we excuse Brendan Smyth because he had "moments of weakness over decades ?

      Is the cover up of abuse to be written off now as "moments of weakness"?

      Is my exile from the institution and clergy for 30 years "a moment of weakness"?

      Please do not get me wrong. I am not trapped in the past licking old wounds. I have made a new life and ministry and am very happy and content.

      But please do not write all the intense suffering of people at the hands of the institutional Church as mere "moments of weakness"

      Have we not learned the lesson that all our "victims" and "survivors" need to be heard - need to tell their stories -whether its Brendan Smyth's victims; James Donaghy's victims; or priests who were abused by fellow priests or superiors.

      Where is justice? Where is restorative justice?

      I expect policemen to be cruel to each other and to the public.

      But should I expect that of the priest? the bishop? the cardinal? the pope?

      What do I need from Noel? I can live without anything from Noel.

      But is he different? Can he listen? Can he feel other's pain?

      Can he put wrongs right?

      These are questions for you and for your fellow priests for for Noel.

      All I know is that 5 years ago I suggested we meet. I am still waiting for a reply.

      In the meantime I get on with my prayers,my ministry, my life and am very fulfilled. In that sense I am a survivor and not a victim.

      But please do not write things off as "moments of weaknesses"

      Pat

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  5. Dear Pat,

    I am now concluding our conversations. I never for one moment put all of the Church's 'evil ills' into the basket of a 'moment of weakness', please give me more credit. I was responding only to your case in St Peter's. I suggest that since you feel so legalistic about, and I mean this sincerely, pursue the matter legally. Get it out in open, public court, shout it from the roof tops Pat.

    I, however, fail to see any redemption in it all. Perhaps you in many regards have excluded yourself and are living this self exclusion particularly in every possible moment of dialogue. You know what Pat, worse has happened to the people in St. Peter's, done by both Church and State, and well you know it - we can multiple that all around Ireland etc. They get on with it.

    Should I walk away, shout and argue with everyone, exclude myself, accuse them of excludung me, hold on to every word and deed that whas done to me. I would be useless in a pastoral context to those around me and to be honest I do not have the time nor the energy.

    I now recognise the reason for non-dialogue with 'Pat', a position I do not adhere to, but I understand it now.

    All the very best and let us at least always pray for each other.

    Your Brother in Christ.

    P.s. All I can do is to pray for all of us that we can be a force for good in the name of Christ.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delay in responding to you.I was away celebrating a wedding Mass on the borders of Offaly and Tipperary.

      I apologise if I made the mistake of thinking that you were referring to all the Church's problems as "moments of weakness". I realise now you were just referring to me and my past.

      I would make the point that all our troubles in the Church go back to central problem - and that is when we have a problem or dispute we reach for the man made Code of Canon Law rather than the New Testament and the Teachings of Christ.

      My initial reaction to any dispute is and always has been to suggest and opt for dialogue and reconciliation.

      I pursued this line with CB Daly without getting anywhere and only resorted to the Industrial Tribunal and the Belfast High Court as a last resort.

      Later I pursued months of dialogue with Paddy Walsh and Raymund Fitzpatrick (RIP) and eventually produced a 14 page document which Paddy Walsh was happy with.

      But someone intervened and Paddy started quoting Canon Law and suspension to me.

      As I said 5 years ago I wrote to Noel Treanor suggesting we meet. I never received and answer.

      With all 3 D & C bishops I have pursued dialogue and reconciliation. That has not been responded to.

      I have only "excluded" myself in the sense I insist that a reconciliation involves BOTH parties. I cannot do this dance on my own - nor can I simply lie down in front of the Canon Law express train and let it roll all over me.

      The reason for non dialogue with Pat may be that Pat would require a two sided process and not just a one way one?

      Pat


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  6. Bishop Pat, I am a Lutheran Priest and may I state as to how I see it:

    As I see it, the Bible sets out the judgment of God in two quite different ways. The Old Testament has hundreds of references to wrath, but there is not one case of this taking place in some future judgment in heaven.

    Repentance is turning to God, and seeking his help in amending one's ways to that one will not suffer imminent wrath in this life. This seems to be the meaning Paul has in mind in Romans 1:18. I believe most of the references in the NT to an imminent day of the Lord coming in judgment refer to the day of the Lord in AD 70.

    The judgment of God in an eternal sense is explained carefully by Jesus in John 3:19 "This is the -krisis- that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light." God uses wrath judgment in this life to help us turn to the light, but our eternal destiny depends not on any kind of good or bad works. The only thing that counts for heaven (as C.S.Lewis pictured allegorically in The Great Divorce) is whether our heart would enjoy being there. That is not Universalism, since there seems to be a proportion who wouldn't want the love and joy of heaven at any price.

    Nobody will end up in heaven except through the work of the Son of God (John 14:6), but our getting there is by grace alone and nothing we do or don't do counts for or against us.

    This is the Lutheran view and I would ask all Christian Brothers and Sisters to reconcile and focus on what is real and to come.

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    Replies
    1. My Brother,

      What a beautiful insight - and one that I never thought of before - your words:

      "THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS FOR HEAVEN.....IS WHETHER OR NOT OUR HEART WOULD ENJOY BEING THERE"

      These words give joy to my heart and even though a sinner I can scream out - MY HEART WOULD ENJOY BEING THERE - MY HEART LONGS TO BE THERE WHEN THE LORD WISHES IT.

      Thank you

      Pat

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  7. May I add one thing that I meant to say Pat before ending our conversations.

    What about the good men that you have in your Oratory - are they to follow you into the future of hurt and exclusion? By all means let it happen, but at what point is reconciliation possible for them?

    Please pray for me as I am about to conduct the funeral rites of a very difficult situation.

    Please be assured, all I say, I say in and with the greatest of respects.

    God Bless

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    Replies
    1. Of course you can add anything you wish. And you have decided to end the conversation. You are quite entitled to do that. But again should a 2 sided conversation not be ended by the agreement of the 2?

      None of us in The Oratory Society feel we are in or heading for a future of hurt and exclusion.

      We meet regularly and we really enjoy our very active and expanding ministry to all kinds of people and that ministry is the focus of 99% of our thoughts and efforts.

      Of course all realise that Pat will not be around for ever.

      In that context there have been preliminary discussions about the consecration of a younger bishop to take over from Pat.

      A lot of our people ask why in the Name of God would we want anything to do with the Roman aspect.

      It is an ongoing discussion which also involves a number of people we have preparing for priesthood.

      Of course we want to do everything we do in prayer and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

      I hope your very sensitive funeral rite went alright and that you were given the grace to bring comfort and healing to those involved.

      I fully acknowledge and accept the spirit in which you have expressed your views.

      I actually appreciate constructive criticism.

      Warmest thoughts,

      Pat

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    2. Dear PP or whoever you may be,

      I am a Priest in the Oratory Society. I have to say that my joining the Society was one of; Spiritual, Intellectual and Human discernment. It was a process, a period of time and reflection with all of the cards clearly and openly exposed on the table of discernment and good guidance.

      Since my descision, through discernment, to join the Society I have discovered the freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which compels me to serve, to serve free of charge!

      God has been good to me and I have found nothing but support, Christian fellowship and a great deal of Spiritual hunger. The only negative experiences have come from the diocese of D & C - i.e. the common whispering campaign!

      I thank God for the Oratory Society, I thank God for the pastoral ministry it conducts and I thank God for the complete freedom to be a part of this service, all whilist being 'who I am'! We do not have shadows because we do not fear the judgements of our Br's & Sr's.

      I thank you for your 'conversation', although I am left wondering, what was it all about?

      Respectfully yours in Christ.

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  8. Nobody deserves to be battered or psychologicaly abused. Could these events not be revisited by Police in much the same way as other abuse issues have in recent years

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    1. Sean,

      Thank you for the care behind this comment and suggestion.

      One of the priests involved id dead (RIP) and the other is very elderly and unwell and nothing positive could come from police involvement I think.

      Pat

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