PRIEST BULLIES IN SCHOOLS
On a reasonably regular basis I hear from principals and teachers in Catholic schools who complain to me that their local priest is behaving like an out of control bully in their school!
In the Catholic school, system in Ireland - both north and south, the local parish priest is often the chairman of the board of governors. This means that the school principal has to answer to the board of governors whose chairman is a priest.
But it also means that the priest who is school chairman, can if he wants, visit the school on a daily basis and make life very difficult for the principal and the teachers. If the principal does not have a strong personality he / she can be intimidated by the Little Hitler priest and in fact the priest virtually becomes the principal.
I know of situations where both principals and teachers have become the victims of priest bullying and in some cases principals and teachers mental health have suffered and they have been out of work with illnesses directly related to the stress of coping with a bullying priest.
In one case I know of the priest's behaviour towards the principal and teachers became so extreme that the local bishop became involved and he had to ban the priest from the parish school!
But what did the priest do in that case? Instead of accepting the bishop's decision he stood outside the school everyday, like a spoiled child or an out of control teenager with an ASBO, to intimidate the principal and teachers on the way in and out of school!
When I became the curate of Kilkeel in County Down I also became the secretary of the board of governors of five primary schools. Soon after becoming school secretary another priest in the diocese showed me a "black list" of teachers I should never give jobs to! Those people on the black list were not bad teachers or "criminals" of any kind. They were simply good Catholic teachers who had a bit of courage and backbone who had stood up to various bullying priests over the years. As a result they were secretly placed on this priestly black list.
My reaction to seeing that black list was to make a vow to myself that if anyone on that blacklist applied to one of the schools of which I was secretary they had a head start :-)
During my time on that board of governors we needed a new principal for one of our schools. The board of governors consisted of the parish priest, myself and a number of lay people. The parish priest was under pressure to give the job to a particular person who had big connections with the clergy. But that person was not the best candidate. Even a consulting expert, who had no vote, had said that they were not the best candidate. I had to fight very hard to get the best qualified candidate appointed.
But even then the parish priest sneaked away under the cover of darkness to inform his preferred candidate that they did not get the job and that it was my fault. That unsuccessful candidate eventually brought the parish priest to court, lied in the dock and failed in their case. At least the parish priest had the good grace to say to me afterwards on the steps of the court: "From now on we will do things the right way".
Too many principals and teachers in Catholic schools get jobs because their uncle is a priest or a monsignor or because they have licked clerical asses for years. This is unjust and has to stop.
Also teachers and their unions should take a stronger stand against these Little Hitler parish priests who abuse their positions in the Catholic school system. Many of these Little Hitlers are not very bright, are emotionally stunted and psychosexually maladjusted and cope with their petty little lives by trying to exercise power over others.
In the 21st century all appointments and promotions should be on the basis of ability and merit. Anything else is unjust and corrupt.