DOWN AND CONNOR . ORG / CRISIS
Whenever I write about a general subject on this Blog I get some 500 - 900 daily "views" and a small few people submit a comment.
Whenever I write a Blog about the Diocese of Down and Connor those daily "views" rise to 2,000 and comments can reach 50.
I also notice that when I write a general Blog the comments, while varied, are quite rational.
But when I write about Down and Connor the comments become very personalised and abusive. Most of this abuse comes from a small number of Down and Connor priests - who get very defensive and offensive.
It is not very difficult to work out who these abusive priests might be - they are the priests who are living double lives, in various ways, and who obviously feel threatened by things being discussed openly.
I came to this diocese 37 years ago in 1978. From the day and hour I arrived here I met and knew very good priests - priests who truly believed, priests who said their prayers and priests who were true pastors and servants to their people. Father Jimmy McCabe RIP of St. Peter's, Ligoniel and St Patrick's was one of them. To this day if you are passing St Patrick's in Donegall Street, Belfast, and drop into say a prayer or light a candle, as I occasionally do, you will find Archdeacon Brendan McGee there praying and writing in the presence of his Lord. I knew other such good priests too and some of them were my confessors and spiritual directors.
I know that there are some very good priests in Down and Connor and I salute them for their faithfulness to their callings.
There are also in Down and Connor some good priests that I call "human priests". They are priests who believe, who are not cynical, who pray and who serve their people - but priests who have found the burden of compulsory celibacy a load too heavy to carry.
Some of these priests are "straight" and are involved in long term, consensual, respectful relationships with adult and mature women.
Some of these priests are "gay" and are involved in long term, consensual, respectful relationships with adult men.
They do not flaunt their relationships or sexuality. They sometimes struggle with the inner "contradiction" they feel about being outwardly celibate and privately in love.
They are good priests caught in the "bad" man made law of compulsory celibacy. Their own private relationships make them more understanding and compassionate to others. I respect and appreciate these priests. They are simply human. I believe that in the eyes of God they are in good standing.
JACK THE LAD PRIESTS:
And then we have what I call "Jack the Lad" priests. I have watched these men for years. I have listened to the complaints of their parishioners. I have comforted some of their victims.
Some of them as "straight". But they do not want one woman. They want many. They do not want love. They want sex and "fun". They often have several women on the go at the one time.
Some of them are "gay". But they do not want one man. They want many men. They do not want love. They want sex and "fun". They often have several men on the go at the one time. They are on the internet looking "hook-ups". You will find them in gay bars and saunas and on gay holidays.
Many of these gay and straight Jack the Lads do not pray. They have little or no interest in their pastoral work. In fact many of them, I believe, do not believe, They are mere functionaries. They have hit on a good way of life. The priesthood is merely their cover.
They are cynical. They often take pleasure in hurting others. They love controlling and manipulating people. They enjoy the "power" they have over parishioners and if they are involved in schools they enjoy their power over children, parents and teachers.
If you mentioned the word JESUS to them they would look at you with a blank expression or laugh in your face - or laugh about you in their clerical cliques. They do hang around in small groups.
Many admit that there is a crisis in Down and Connor - a crisis that no one is doing anything about. These Jack the Lads are a large part of the crisis.
The D&C crisis - while locally intense - is also part of a greater crisis. One of the big causes of that crisis is compulsory celibacy.
It is interesting that the Bishop of Kilmore (Cavan) Leo O'Reilly has publicly realised this and wants the next meeting of the Irish Bishops to discuss it.
I think he will be a lone voice. The Irish Episcopal Conference is composed mainly of weak men and "yes" men.
In the meantime we must all just get on with loving and serving Jesus and our brothers and sisters - especially those in most need.