Tuesday, 11 November 2014


British archbishop who claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to paedophile investigators is promoted to third highest role in Vatican by the Pope

  • Archbishop Paul Gallagher appointed by Pope Francis as foreign minister
  • Refused to hand over documents on two priests who abused 100 children
  • He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden as Church was aware of crimes
  • Also requested to give evidence about paedophile Father James Fletcher
  • But cited diplomatic immunity to avoid handing in response to requests 

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests. A British archbishop, appointed by Pope Francis as his new foreign minister, claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid handing over Vatican documents to prosecutors investigating two paedophile priests.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, 60, from Liverpool was promoted on Saturday to the third highest position in the Vatican as part of a reshuffle by Francis.
But the appointment of the former papal envoy to Australia to the Vatican's most senior hierarchy will be a blow for campaigners against clerical sex abuse.

Earlier this year the United Nations said it was 'concerned' after Mr Gallagher cited diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests by prosecutors for documents on two priests that abused more than 100 children over 40 years.
A report by the UN Committee against Torture reported that the Holy See was still 'resisting the principle of mandatory reporting of allegations to civil authorities', and withholding information, citing Gallagher by name.
Only after months of bureaucratic wrangling and an embarrassing diplomatic standoff did the Archbishop eventually agree to turn over some of the documents which were wanted as part of an inquiry into Australia's worst abuse scandal.

The Maitland-Newcastle diocese has been described as the country's 'epicentre' of Catholic clerical abuse with 400 known victims.

Gallagher was asked for information on Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls was known to the church as a paedophile since the 1970s but for decades he was moved from parish to parish in Australia and posted overseas to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

He was eventually defrocked in a secret process in exchange for 'keeping his good name'.
The documents requested also referred to Father James Fletcher, who was convicted of abusing four victims over three decades including the rape of an altar boy, a crime for which he was sentenced to almost eight years prison, where he died in 2006.

Copies of correspondence released by the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry show prosecutors requested documents from Gallagher on 30 August 2013.
The nuncio sent an interim response, stating that he was submitting the request to Rome but after no response almost two months later the prosecutors were forced to write again to both Gallagher and the Vatican to follow up the request.

Pope Francis recently appointed Mr Gallagher as his new foreign minister, the third highest position in the Vatican
Three weeks later Gallagher eventually replied reminding the commissioner that his office was 'the high diplomatic representative of the Holy See to the Commonwealth' and cited 'the protections afforded by international agreements, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations'.

The convention states that the archives and documents of a diplomatic mission 'shall be inviolable at any time and wherever they may be'. 

Without this 'high principle of international relations' 'diplomatic missions would no longer be able freely to carry out their domestic and international responsibilities', he claimed.
He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls and was known as a danger   since the 1970s
He was asked about Father Denis McAlinden, an Irish priest who preyed on pre-pubescent girls and was known as a danger since the 1970s
He said his office would consider 'specific requests' for information, 'bearing in mind the expectation that it would not be appropriate to seek internal communications'.
On 14 November the NSW crown solicitor, Ian Knight, wrote to Gallagher for a third time.

In his letter Knight reminded the nuncio of a guarantee by Cardinal George Pell that 'every document the Vatican had' would be made available to a separate inquiry into child sexual abuse in the same year.

'Of course, this Commission is separate and distinct from both the Royal Commission and the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry,' Knight wrote, '
'But I trust that the sentiment of co-operation would similarly extend to this Commission's processes.'
Eventually on 6 December 2013 Gallagher forwarded copies of correspondence between the Bishop of Maitland−Newcastle and the then Nuncio, as well as other letters, which the commission already had copies of.

But he declined to forward any 'internal communications', between the Vatican diplomatic missions in Australia and in the Philippines saying 'Such communications are confidential, as is the case for those of the diplomatic missions of any country.'

Gallagher was appointed following the demotion of ultra-conservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who has led open opposition to Pope Francis' leadership saying the church is 'without a rudder'. 


I'm truly disappointed that Pope Francis is taking another "wheeler and dealer" Catholic bishop to work in the Vatican :-(

Gallagher is obviously loyal to the RC institution BUT has no loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Teachings.

He was quite prepared to shield at least 2 priest paedophiles in Australia and thereby make it more difficult for the Australian authorities to achieve justice for abused children.

It is quite obvious to me that the RC Institution is guided by the Spirit of Darkness and not by the Holy Spirit.

The Vatican / so called Holy See is nothing but a ROGUE STATE.

They are in the same mould as the Mugabee's and Putins of this world.

Maybe there should be a Cardinal Mugabee and a Cardinal Putin?

+Pat Buckley


  1. He looks like a slimmer version of our very own HUGH KENEDY.

    I wonder if he has his own private organ grinder?

    Priest - D&C

  2. Indeed Hugh Kennedy perhaps would have looked and dressed like this if he had been more circumspect in his organ grinding pursuits. However he does sport inflammation of the button holes in his purple displays when abroad as a Maltese Grand Visigoth! Another Right Burke for the Sovereign Order!

  3. Dear Pat,
    Bureaucrats dressed up in clerical clothing ! Jesus did not come into the world to found what we now know as the RCC ( Roman Catholic Church). Papal Nuncios simply "ape" the political world with less & less reference to Jesus.
    Jesus would not have the qualifications to be a Papal Nuncio, or Bishop of Down & Connor, for that matter. ( + Noel is of course a professional bureaucrat, with almost no pastoral experience, but sure he looks the part)

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    1. Noel did manage to visit Kilkeel last Sunday but did not have time to stay for all the Masses. Perhaps he had an "urgent" lunch date with important people?

  4. Dear Pat,
    our globetrotting Bishop (+Noel) was in "Verdun" , in North Eastern France yesterday, for Armistice Day celebrations, with other European Bishops. Noel's suitcase sits by the door ready for any excuse to get out of Belfast for a few days.
    The life of the 'round peg in the square hole' continues, with real dissatisfaction on all sides. + Noel sadly is not a spiritual leader, but rather an ecclesiastical bureaucrat, and the Priests and people of this Diocese deserve better.

    D&C cleric.

    1. That may explain his hasty departure from Kilkeel - to make the flight to Verdun?

      What was wrong with him attending the Cenotaph in Belfast yesterday where he is supposed to be bishop?

      Or is he now the Bishop of Down, Connor & Verdun?

      Thats a busy case by the door! Maybe he should really be called - Episcopus Universalis?

    2. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. Noel Treanor is everywhere except in Down and Connor :-)

      PP D&C

    3. Are we the people of the diocese picking up the tab for all these flights and hotel stays?

      Why spend £ 4 million on a palace you are never in?

      Curious, Holy Family Parish.

    4. Yes - you are picking up the tab.

      And you deserve to keep picking it up until you stop being turkeys voting for Christmas.

      Priest - Belfast.

  5. Dear Curious, Holy Family Parish,
    R u going to the meeting in your Parish this evening to discuss parish debt and selling off church properties ? Will the PP be back from Verdun in time ? As u may know + Noel is ur PP as Holy Family is a "mensal" parish, & Fr Strain is the Administrator.
    Perhaps Bishop Noel could suggest some ready sources of money, given the 'open chequebook' policy on the extravagant "Lisbreen" renovation over the last 2 yrs.
    U mite like to keep blog readers up to date on the goings on in Holy Family.

    D&C cleric.

  6. The great thing about being Bishop of Down & Connor is that you are totally unaccountable to the Priests & people of the Diocese. He calls the shots and everybody ducks. What an iniquitous system of governance we live and work under. Who ever asks Noel Treanor to justify any decision or expense ? Answer : NO ONE !
    Therein lies the problem.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  7. Pat,
    The Belfast cenotaph ceremony is too parochial for our cosmopolitan Bishop; it lacks a certain "je ne sais quoi".
    Bishop Walsh used to ask Fr Hugh P K to deputise for him at the cenotaph - he was delighted as he dressed up like a 'clerical peacock' in his Maltese Order regalia.
    Dysfunctional behaviour is everywhere in the church including Down & Connor.


  8. Ever thought of designing a set of chess figures based on clerical characters? What about Monopoly? Sean

    1. Sean, that has already been done in NI. Pat

  9. Sean,
    What about a modern day version of "Spitting Image" ?
    There are numerous caricatures present amongst our clergy, and I think it could put the "Folks on the Hill" programme 'in the shade' !


    1. Excellent idea. Could be a hit on youtube. Just need to find somebody who can do it-animated fr ted-ish and guard against libel. Sean

  10. It's about time those of you still interested and involved in affairs of the RC church organise yourselves to start a movement away from the corrupt regime of the RC church!
    This would certainly be difficult for present clergy given their dependence on the hierarchy for financial security. But if a movement started to withold all parishoner financial contributions to the present diocesan set up, and divert them into some way of supporting independent ministries following (true) christian ethos traditions, ..........Interesting thought.

    1. Mighty Man Michael. As a former southern irish R C I need to remind people that they will not go to hell for turning away from R C and organising independently or as part of another denomination. (I had to work on this reality because all I ever knew was southern irish catholic-there was no realistic alternative) I would fully support any such move. Sean

  11. Dear Pat,
    I used to think that the gospel message could not continue to be credibly proclaimed in Ireland without the Catholic Church. I now many years after ordination ask myself the same question in reverse; can the gospel message credibly be proclaimed within the present structures of the Catholic Church in Ireland ?
    The present Catholic church in Ireland, in my opinion, is not a fit or credible vehicle to carry the gospel message forward in the 21st century.
    I and other priests face the awful dilemma of staying in/or leaving a church that we no longer find credible. My crisis is not a lack of faith in Jesus or the sacraments, but rather a realisation that the present structures of the church, including an inherent clericalism, are doing an enormous harm to the precious faith we hold so dear. The faith is dying because we continue to put "new wine into old wineskins".
    The people cry out for meaning and mystery, and we offer them 'stones' of judgement and unworthiness to " beat themselves with", and then we wonder why they turn away.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    1. If enough priests thought this - and were prepared to take VERY RADICAL ACTION then things could change. The problem is priestly fear.

    2. Dear D & C Fr. You are saying most eloquently what it took me years to get my head around. I was hot headed and jumped before I weighed the consequences. I have the scars to prove it. That being said I am a better man for my experiences and would not want to return to the good old bad old days. Sean

  12. Yes Pat, I agree that fear of the hierarchy is a major impediment to change. I did post a query/comment some months back about the legal position of current diocesan clergy hoping somebody with legal knowledge might clarify a PP or curate's rights and entitlements should he quit the current diocesan status quo to begin a christian ministry within his existing parish. For example, could he be entitled to remain in the parochial house, use the existing church premises for services etc? What income is he entitled to?
    Clarification of these essentials are necessary, for too many diocesan clergy are simply obliged to remain silent in the face of likely retribution for asking too many ackward questions of the hierarchy. You know all about that!
    But even if present clergy don't want to go so far as quitting the current diocesan "stitch up", surely they need to establish their employment rights vis a vis the RC church, and how far they can go in demanding changes,(just like a trade union would).
    So can anyone clarify, or point to where this could be obtained, and/or can you shed any light Pat.
    As a "non involved" humanist, it doesn't affect me at all. But I just feel for the many good caring pastors out there labouring in such insecure unhappy positions.

  13. Dear MMM,

    If a group of priests changed the locks on their presbyteries and churches and operated according to their consciences the Church would have a major problem on their hands.

    The more priests that did it - the bigger the problem for the Church.

    The only option open to the Church in the face of such action would be to initiate legal proceedings against the priests. That would take time and each case would have to be dealt with, publicly, in court.

    In the mean time the "protesting" priests could take a normal salary from the collections not handed over to the diocese.

    You would find that many of these priests would have the backing of their parishioners.

    The real question is - "Do enough priests have the required "testicular tissue" to launch such a radical challenge????


    1. Our Priest would certainly have the backing of his Parishioners but I fear he is too brow-beaten now to have the energy to do it. I think he keeps a very low profile in the Diocese so he is left in peace. I would go further and say that I would put more into the collection if I thought more was going to him. If all priests made a stand things would have to change.

  14. Dear Sean,
    Recently , using the D&C diocesan directory and my knowledge of clergy age profiles, I made an approximate calculation that in 10 yrs time there will be between 60 & 70
    priests in active ministry within the Diocese. There are approx 130 priests in active ministry in the Diocese at present.
    The clergy 'demographic time-bomb' is ticking very loudly in D&C . Very sadly, only when clergy levels reach a super critical point, will the people, clergy & Bishops of this Diocese 'waken up' and act. Until then we'll all hold hands and walk towards the cliff together !

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  15. You still here Buckley? Living in a house with force! What a life you lead. At least you stand on your own two feet, oh, you live in a Roman house! Tragic life!