Friday, 2 January 2015



After a "concerned parishioner" from Ballymena expressed their concern to this Blog about Father Symonds (70) being one of the healing team at Divine Healing Ministeries his profile has been removed from the ministry website.

I do not see this in any sense as a "victory" for the Ballymena parishioner or this Blog.

In fact the Father Symonds story - like all the stories of people being hurt by clergy - is really a tragedy. These instances are first of all a tragedy for the innocent people who suffered. But they are also a tragedy for the clergyman involved. 

But the first priority in all our minds MUST ALWAYS BE the protection of innocent children and vulnerable adults.

But as Christians we should also be capable of compassion and love for those who offend, sin and err - even in in this most serious of ways.

Irrational hatred and the angry clenched fist has never solved any problem and it never will.

We belong to a God who will forgive ANY and EVERY sin as long as the sinner is truly sorry for his/her sins.

I would imagine that a great part of Father Symonds problems stem from the fact that he was a secret homosexual living in an intolerant Church and society.

Sometimes when the normal sexual expressions have to be kept hidden and denied the normal healthy sexual appetite manifests itself in seriously disordered ways.

As my Dad used to say: "As the twig bends - so will the tree grow".

Sexual repression and denial finds easy targets in young people and vulnerable people.

Father Symonds is now 70 years old. Most people his age have been retired for 5 years at his age. 

I think it might be wise for him to enter retirement or at least semi-retirement mode.

He can pray and even celebrate a private Eucharist with close friends. 

He is reported to have inherited a large inheritance. Perhaps he could use his resources to discreetly help others in need - avoiding those areas and people which create vulnerabilities for others and for himself.

+Pat Buckley


  1. Dear Pat,
    May I commend you for a thoughtful and compassionate piece.
    Fr Symonds is leading a quiet life out of the public eye, and is 'de facto' retired.
    To the best of my knowledge, the ecclesiastical court dealing with his case has not yet met, and therefore no judgement has been given.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

  2. I am not aware of what Fr Symonds did, didn't or might have done. I am not in a position to judge. If there is nothing worthy of a civil court I would view ecclesiastical court as a waste of space. The poor chap may well be dead before they rule. I then ask myself how relevant that ruling might be. Sean

  3. I agree, Pat. No victory - not a question of "winning". However and BUT.... It was the underhand nature and deceptiveness of Paul Symonds and "Divine Healing Ministries" that is part of the issue. Also, if PS was/is a homosexual engaging in age-appropriate, consensual, sexual relationship - a different matter entirely - BUT - as related on this blog - masturbating over young lads' feet???? That's is not normal. He shouldn't be ministering to people in need of healing in any capacity and, lets face it, he and DHM were 'rumbled'. How PS behaved with young fellows and expected to get away with it - living so loudly in public and even taking an OBE - speaks of pathology/sociopathy!!?? Sad case, I agree but the vulnaerable and unsuspecting have to be defended. PS needs some of the repentance he so often preached about to others. B'mena parishioner.

    1. If masturbating on young lads feet were proven to be true I would change my opinion to dangerous nut case Sean

  4. Well, sean, that's what one of his victims alleges,

  5. I think we need to be very careful here. The business about the feet stuff is an allegation. Nothing more, nothing less. No police involvement or prosecution. The church court has not been held yet. So in anybody's book Rev symonds is entitled to the age old convention of innocence until proven guilty

  6. One of the young people who claims he was abused by Fr symonds said that about the feet to Bishop Buckley. And wasn't there something about a settlement being made? You don't make settlements if you are innocent.

  7. One person said!! Hardly enough by any standard to prove the man guilty. Are we not in the same position at the moment concerning a statemen by some american woman about a New York lawyer and prince Andrew. From what I can see here a load of innuendo, conjecture and smear is levelled at Symonds on the back of one persons word. I cannot help but feel that the concerned parishioner from Ballymena should be more concerned at the damage their loose pen is doing to a man who is entitled to the presumption of innocence!

  8. There was a second boy at Stonyhurst who was involved. Then there was the seminarian in Belfast. Are we not looking at 3 + concerning cases? Priest D&C

  9. Yes, Fr and maybe more. The boy in Belfast was not a seminarian but a pupil at St Malachy's College.

  10. According to a former pupil of St malachys there were at least two pupils assaulted. One a boy from the Whiteabbey area and the other boy from the Cliftonville Road district

    1. This is first time I heard of this. Are you sure of your info? What is "known" among clergy was a seminarian from St Malachys. Let us tell the truth by all means - but not spread unfounded rumours. Has what you said been reported to the police???