"THE MEMORY OF JESUS IS BOTH SACRED AND SUBVERSIVE"
Sunday, 22 February 2015
FATHER JAMES DONAGHY - THE SAD SAGA.
This week brought the news that the former parish priest of Bangor in Northern Ireland has been dismissed from the priesthood by Pope Francis for the sexual abuse of at least 4 young boys and men.
What many people do not realise is that James Donaghy is STILL A PRIEST but has been simply dismissed from the "clerical state" by The Vatican.
That means that he can still, if he wishes to, validly say Mass and he is also bound under the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law to give The Last Rites to anyone in danger of death. So he is not a "Catholic cleric" anymore but he is still a priest. Catholic teaching says that "once a priest, always a priest" and that at ordination an "indelible" mark is placed upon the soul that can never be removed by anyone - not even the pope - and by the sounds of it - not even God!
This week the current Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, once again apologised to James Donaghy's victims and said that he hoped his dismissal would help their healing.
I hope Bishop Treanor has put his money where his mouth is and contributed to the healing of Donaghy's victims by:
1. Meeting them personally and comforting them.
2. Providing them with all the counselling and support they need.
3. Made sure that they have been generously compensated for their years of pain and suffering.
If the bishop can afford to spend millions on renovating his palace he can certainly afford to look after Father Donaghy's victims who are still struggling to create a new life.
Below I include the report of an interview by "David" - one of James Donaghy's victim's gave to Ulster Television. This young man was sexually abused by Donaghy in parochial houses in the diocese and later in the Diocesan Seminary at The Wing at St. Malachy's College, Belfast.
He was abused in a room that was within view of the office of the then president of Saint Malachy's - Father - and now Bishop of Derry - Donal McKeown.
The man in charge of the seminary was Father John McManus who was promoted from there by Bishop Treanor to be the chancellor of Down and Connor diocese. Father McManus has now "disappeared" from active ministry and his current whereabouts are unknown.
The other priest looking after the seminarians during Father Donaghy's visits there was the "spiritual director" - Father Paul Symons - who is currently undergoing an ecclesiastical trial in Dublin for historic inappropriate behaviour.
And I had been writing for years to the then Bishop of Down and Connor - Paddy Walsh - on behalf of "David's" family (confirmed in the UTV interview below) about the abuse of their son. At a meeting with Bishop Walsh and David' family, I put it to Bishop Walsh that Donaghy was claiming that he, Bishop Walsh, could not act against him because he "had something" on Bishop Walsh. Bishop Walsh denied this.
David was originally abused at the age of 13 as an altar boy in Whitehouse Parish in Belfast where Father Donaghy was parish priest.
When Bishop Walsh Promoted Father Donaghy to be parish priest of Bangor - a reward for being the organiser of the 2000 AD Jubilee celebrations in the diocese - Donaghy just took David with him to Bangor.
And when David entered the seminary to study for the priesthood Donaghy followed him into the seminary and abused him in a room there without anyone seemingly noticing or acting - although the activity was the talk of David's fellow seminarians.
THE UTV INTERVIEW:
A young man who was training to become a priest says he gave up after another priest, Fr James Donaghy, sexually abused him from the age of 13.
In an emotional and moving interview the 32-year-old man looked back on his years of torment by a man he believes was protected by the Catholic Church.
"I wanted to be a priest from a very young age, and in fact I wrote to the bishop when I was ten and, saying I wanted to be a priest," said David - not his real name.
"That dirty b****** has destroyed my faith. I don't even know if anybody exists up there anymore, I have no feelings for the Catholic Church whatsoever."
David's dreams of the priesthood were shattered when he became the target of unwelcome sexual assaults from the ruthless, sexual predator, Fr James Donaghy.
His ordeal began when he was a 13-year-old altar boy and continued into his 20s, such was the fear instilled in him by his abuser.
David is angry about the way Fr Donaghy destroyed his family.
I HAD AWFUL ROWS WITH PARENTS; I STOPPED SPEAKING TO MY DAD FOR ABOUT 8 TO 10 YEARS BECAUSE WE JUST CLASHED, COULDN’T TAKE IT. I LOST EVERY FRIEND I HAD, I LOST MY FAMILY, I HAD NOBODY I COULD TURN TO BECAUSE I CHOSE NOT TO TURN TO SOMEBODY.
The priest may be serving 10 years in jail for offences against David and three others, but he has left David carrying the life burden of guilt for the sins of the father.
"This never leaves you," he continued.
"When you have this, when you have all this stuff done to you and you have it done as a kid and you can't understand why and you fall out with your family. You feel like nobody loves you, you feel like you are dirt; you are damaged and it never, it just does not go away."
Eventually in 2009, it was a letter from the priest Pat Buckley to David and a follow up phone call that helped persuade him to finally speak out.
The case against Fr Donaghy was based on the testimony of David and another victim, Father Patrick McCafferty - but the path to justice was not smooth.
David explained: "We were brought into that courtroom, we thought we were going ahead with this and then suddenly the cases were going to be separated."
There would be two trials - the first involving the evidence of Fr McCafferty and later the trial involving David, who said he was devastated.
He said: "I still have bodily convulsions if it gets too much for me in my head, and I'll literally end up in a ball on the floor."
The priest denied all 23 charges going back 17 years.
Jailing Donaghy for 10 years in February 2012, Judge Patrick Lynch described him as a ruthless individual, a sexual predator who used his charm, humour and domineering personality to get his gratification.
Two months ago Fr Donaghy finally admitted in court to being a paedophile as another case was brought against him. He was convicted but will serve no extra time in prison.
As David reflects on his ordeal, he thinks of his parents' divorce brought about by Fr Donaghy playing one parent against the other to ensure access to David.
He said: "He took a leading role in the family whenever they had separated. He effectively in some sense did turn my mother against my father."
And now, since UTV interviewed David and his wife, they too have broken up.
DO WE NOT NEED A FULL INQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE DONAGHY SAGA - AN INQUIRY THAT WILL LET US KNOW WHO KNEW WHAT - AND WHO ACTED AND WHO DID NOT ACT - AND WHY? +Pat Buckley