Friday, 14 November 2014



Bishop Treanor at Verdun (2nd from left)
The Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor is drifting deeper and deeper into crisis - a crisis called mainly by it's "absentee" bishop Noel Treanor.

A D&C priest writing to this Blog in the past few days said:

"The Holy Spirit is everywhere and Bishop Treanor is everywhere except in Down and Connor"

Bishop Treanor recently called ALL his clergy together to a meeting at a religious venue just outside Newry. So disillusioned are the clergy that only half of them bothered to turn up!

This caused a furious Noel Treanor to send an email to all the priests lamenting the poor turn out and being critical of what he called the "Carryduff Question".

This Blog has had a copy of Bishop Treanor's email sent to it by one of the priests of the diocese.

What was the "Carryduff Question"?

The question was addressed to Bishop Treanor at the Newry meeting by a senior priest of the diocese with geographical connections to the Carryduff area of Belfast. Again his name is known to this Blog but out of respect for his privacy we are not naming him.

The question was: "Bishop Noel, is the poor turn out at this meeting not a sign of the fact that the priests of the diocese have lost confidence in your leadership"?

Treanor was apparently furious at this question and having floundered about for a brief period Noel decided that attack was the best form of defence. It seems to me - and to many others - that the faithful priest who asked this question has now been firmly put in the folder that is marked: "enemy" or "trouble maker".

Apparently Bishop Treanor's main theme at the gathering was how important it was for priests to look after Church funds and finances.

This prompted another question from the floor:

"Which particular Gospel imperative asks priests to look after Church funds and finances"?

Again Noel was enraged.

Had I been there I think I might have pointed out to Noel Treanor that the only Gospel precedent for priestly money managing was the precedent of Judas Iscariot!

Noel is now on the financial war path and is apparently planning a number of other clergy gatherings at various venues in the coming months.

Fathers!  Bring your parish accounts and your cheque books with you!


Noel Treanor came to Down and Connor in 2008 - 6 years ago.

The belief is that he came here reluctantly - as he was very happy in his Church desk job in Europe.

He was only supposed to be passing through Down and Connor on his way to Armagh and a cardinal's hat.

However he messed up his chances of Armagh in various ways - especially by choosing to have a very public row with Mr Ian Elliott - the former head of the Church's Child Safeguarding Board.

Ian Elliott

He is not supposed to be happy in Down and Connor. He does not like the place. He does not like the priests and regards them all as "problems".

He has infuriated clergy and people alike by spending a reported £ 4 million on restoring his palace in Belfast - replete with door handles costing £350 each and wallpaper at £100 a roll.

He has either an unfortunate personality or is a rude snob. His conversational and preaching style is to make people feel that they are being talked down to.

He is avoiding celebrating Confirmation ceremonies as often as he can and is sending out his ailing auxiliary bishop Tony Farquhar (70's) and the retired and nearly done Bishop Walsh (84) to represent him.

Paddy Walsh

He is appointing "vicars" to deal with other matters he should be dealing with personally - clergy, social affairs and education.

He is either not answering correspondence at all or taking months to reply to letters from clergy and laity.

In spite of the fact that he is now living (since last week) in a £ 4 million mansion he is never there.

He is away at the drop of a hat - on pilgrimages, trips to Europe, holidays, meetings, conferences etc - all of which are being payed for by the donations of the People of God.

Rumour has it that he has several long distance and world wide trips arranged already for 2015.

"I keep an overnight bag at the ready"

Its not unknown for people to call his mobile telephone number and be told by him that he is in a foreign country.

As a result of all these matters the Diocese of Down and Connor is basically leaderless. The Barque of Peter in Down and Connor is rudderless. The boat has no captain.

As a result it is quickly and definitively heading for the rocks!

The good priests in the Diocese - of which there are many - are very worried and concerned about this and are gradually losing heart.

The cynical and irresponsible priests are delighted. They are enjoying being mice in a household that has no resident cat!

They are having a great time - never in their parishes and always with their boyfriends (most common) or girlfriends (less common). They are also treating their parishioners like dirt. Any why not? If the Bishop can defecate on the priests surely the priests can do the same to the lowest form of Church life - the laity.

The sad thing about all of this though is that:

1. The Gospel is not being preached.

2. The sheep are without shepherding

3. The clergy are lost in a mist.

4. The Body of Christ (the Church) is being severely wounded.

Something must happen to stop this decline. That "something" must happen NOW!

Noel needs to change from being an aloof and absentee pastor into a good shepherd.

If he cannot - or will not - do that then -

He should immediately resign - and allow his scattered and frightened sheep to be cared for by a shepherd after the Lord's heart.

+Pat Buckley


  1. This "crisis", Fr Buckley, exists in your imagination, goaded on by the malcontents who are feeding your frenzy. The Bishop was not "furious" at anything and the meeting was congenial and enjoyable. There was an open expression of views around the challenges facing all priests in parishes and diocese everywhere. The "Carryduff Question" was not couched in the negative terms you and your ilk wish to put upon it. Apathy among some clergy is a common problem and it is not Bishop Noel's fault. I have never found the Bishop in any way patronising or condescending. He is an absolute Christian gentleman. Priest

    1. Dear Priest,

      I do not believe you ! Sorry ! The priests who spoke to me about the Newry meeting are not "malcontents". I have known them for years. They are spiritual men with pastoral hearts who are genuinely afraid for the diocese.

      Can you tell me why 50% of the priests were missing ???

      I am glad that you acknowledge the existence of the "Carryduff Question".

      I was not at the meeting. The Bishop's email was not sent to me by Noel.

      A part of the crisis is that Nero is fiddling why Rome burns.

      There were many around Nero who did not speak the truth to him and described him as a perfect gentleman too.


    2. I do not want my Bishop to be a "perfect gentleman" - who lives in a palace, eats gourmet food, drinks fine wines and travels the world in Business Class.

      I want my Bishop to have - as Pope Francis says - "the smell of the sheep about him".

      I want him to be priest and prophet to my people and I.

      The smell of Chanel No 5 Pour Homme does nothing for me.

      We are in crisis.

      Its sad that it is only Pat Buckley that is speaking out.

      PP D&C

    3. And I do not believe YOU, Rev Buckley - nor the few disaffected malcontents who are trying to manufacture a "crisis" of their and your own making. What are these "faithful", "spiritual" priests writing to you doing in their own parishes?

  2. Dear PP & fellow Priest,
    You are right. We are in Crisis, and a major factor in it, is +Noel's poor spiritual leadership. He's running away from the situation (mostly via airports) because he has nothing to offer us in Down & Connor.
    A very sad state of affairs for all concerned, not least the clergy who feel largely that Noel regards us as an inadequate bunch. He's a round peg in a square hole, and we're stuck with him. I know these comments may lack a certain charity, but I stand over them.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  3. Dear Pat,
    Whilst not disagreeing with most of what the last two priests said, I would say the following.
    Firstly, I think the Vatican misjudged badly the type of person we required as Bishop, when Noel T was appointed here in 2008. He does not have the right "skills set" to be a Diocesan Bishop, and he surely must realise that himself. Just over 6 yrs after his appointment he is still a stranger to most of the clergy & people in D&C.
    All of us when in times of emotional discomfort, seek support, and that I believe is what + Noel is doing with the frequent trips abroad, to Rome, Brussells etc where he can reenter his 'old world' , far away from the problems and humdrum existence of D&C.
    The fact raised by others, (I can concur with this also) that it takes months to get decisions out of "Lisbreen", is indicative of the low priority that parish life has in + Noel's mind; he may even subconsciously be always " finding" something more interesting to do or think about.
    Sadly, I see no solution to this situation, other than Rome HQ to find a new role for + Noel; the Diplomatic Corps would seem to be an obvious choice.

    D&C priest.

  4. Dear Bishop Pat,
    The comments of the Priests on your blog remind me of the "Titanic" scene after hitting the iceberg. The Down & Connor 'ship' is sinking lower every day.
    As a practising Catholic in Belfast, I feel very sad about this situation, but feel powerless to do anything, to change it for the better.

    Belfast Parishioner.

  5. Priests need balls and people need courage. It is time for another reformation within the RC church where appropriate bishops can be told to "fek off" Sean

  6. Dear "anonymous 01:47 15Nov".

    You posed the question what we so called "malcontents" are doing in our own parishes ? Let me answer you.
    I am doing the same work that 3 clergy used to be responsible for. I have not had a proper holiday ie. more than 1week, in the last 2 yrs.
    Can you honestly say that there are not major topics to be dealt with in our diocese ?
    Don't shoot the messenger,just because you don't want genuine issues of concern around clergy being raised in a public forum, such as this blog.
    Burying our heads in the sand will do nothing for the good people of Down & Connor, who look to us as their spiritual fathers.
    I've tried to raise these issues with the Bishop & other clergy to no avail. Sadly the majority of D&C clergy are in the 'anything for a quiet life' club.
    I care about the future of our Diocese and that is why I challenge the inadequate status quo.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

    1. Don't believe a word of it! D&C is not that badly off that priests cant get away on holidays - some of them several a year.

      As the playwright wrote: "the whole world is in a state of chassis!" There are crises everywhere in the Church and the world. Blaming Bishop Treanor is just pathetic and some of the stuff being said here about gourmet food, fine wines, etc., are the poisoned views of a few men who wouldn't be happy of Our Lord Himself came, in Person, to be bishop. After all, we survived Paddy Walsh for sixteen years. People weren't happy with wee Cathal either and they criticised Bishop Philbin for being 'out of touch' and a kinder man you wouldn't have met. Bishop Noel is a decent and good man, a true Christian. Get on with your work Frs. and follow the advice St John the Baptist gave to the soldiers. Quit yer bitchin' and, at the opening of the accounts, be able to say to the Lord: "We are worthless servants. We have done no more than our duty".

    2. I am inclined to agree that many D&C priests get good holidays every year. I am told that they some of them are frequently to be seen enjoying their group holidays in specially selected venues in the general Ibiza area ?

      Of course there is no perfect bishop.

      But should we not expect our bishops to be men of prayer and pastoral passion?

      I heard on the grapevine yesterday that Veritas are publishing two books soon with D&C connections:

      1. How Green Was My Valet - C. B Daly.

      2. Sadomasochism And the Doctrine of Apostolic Succession - P. Walsh.

      A third book is in the pipeline:

      In the Steps of Blessed Michael Palin - N. Treanor.

  7. Dear "anonymous 16 Nov 10:46"
    I wish I was as ignorant of church affairs in D&C as you obviously are.
    I note you said 'we survived 16 yrs of Paddy Walsh'. We didn't ! I can tell you as a priest of this Diocese we're still dealing with the fallout from The "Walsh era".

    PP D&C.