Sunday, 20 December 2015


Fr John Mc Manus: Priest cleared of abuse claims resumes duties


Father John McManus
Image captionFather John McManus was cleared of abuse allegations

A senior priest who was cleared of abuse allegations more than three years ago has returned to his duties.
Fr John McManus, from Portaferry, County Down, stepped aside in March 2011 during an investigation.
In June 2012, the Public Prosecution Service decided he had no case to answer.
Fr McManus told parishioners he was "delighted and privileged" to be joining them in celebrating Mass.
"The last time I celebrated Mass in this Church of Saint Patrick was on 9 March 2011, Ash Wednesday, when I informed you that I had requested administrative leave from ministry for the duration of the necessary inquiries.
"Since then, I have been very much at home living here among you.
"I wish to thank especially my family, my neighbours and friends of all faiths and none for their support and kindness shown to me during this time."


Police conducted an inquiry after a complaint was made to the Diocese of Down and Connor's child safeguarding office.
Fr McManus was a former press spokesperson for the diocese and a member of its committee that oversees the safeguarding of children.
He celebrated Mass in Portaferry on Saturday and Ballygalget on Sunday along with Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor.

Bishop Treanor said Fr McManus had co-operated fully with a "thorough investigation by the police and the Public Prosecution Service", as well as an inquiry within the Catholic Church.
He told churchgoers that the "canonical judicial inquiry concluded that there were not and are not any safeguarding issues that prevent his return to ministry".
"I wish Fr John many happy years of fruitful ministry after the past four and a half years, during which time he has been supported by his family, by friends and by you, his parishioners."


John McManus has been found NOT GUILTY of the allegations that were made against him by both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. 

The police and the Prosecution Service decided that there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute him and a lengthy Catholic Church enquiry also cleared him.

That means that in civil and church law he is innocent and therefore he must be fully treated as innocent.

It is NOT a question of whether you like John McManus or not. I have spoken to people, especially former seminarians of whom he was in charge in St Malachy's who do not like him. I have seen comments on other Blogs from people who do like him.

I am not one of his fans. My main experience of him was in the context of the Father James Donaghy case - the case of the PP of Bangor who is in prison for sexually abusing young men. I believe he played a less than helpful role in that case.

When he stepped down from active ministry in 2011 he was the Chancellor of the Diocese of Down and Connor.

While he has been away his replacement, Father Eugene O'Hagan has had the title "Chancellor Ad Interim".

Eugene (centre)

Is Bishop Treanor not morally bound at this stage to restore him to his former position as Chancellor?

Why would an innocent man de deprived of the position he held before the now declared unfounded allegations against him.

As of today - on the Down and Connor website Father McManus is still listed as c/o Bishops House and Father O'Hagan is still listed as Chancellor.

Where is Father McManus ministering today?

Come  on Noel. Put your "money" where you mouth is!


  1. The Bishop is not "morally bound" to reappoint him as Chancellor. Indeed, this might be an opportune time for John to make a fresh start somewhere as PP or ADM - instead of pen-pushing in Lisbreen. Why not a layman/woman as chancellor? Good luck to John anyhow. It was a long ordeal for him.

  2. If a man was the Manufacturing Manager in a company and had to step aside after allegations and was later fully cleared is he not entitled to his job as Manufacturing Manager back?

    Would it be fair to put him in some other job?

    Does "Restorative Justice" not require a full return to someone's previous position? Just wondering?

  3. Is Fr McManus' return to ministry the first miracle of the Year of Mercy 2015/16 ?

    Priest of D&C.

  4. I wish John well but if I had been "hung out to dry" for almost 5 yrs I don't think I would have wanted to return.
    The Church always serves its own interests, regardless of the personal pain suffered by a Priest or layperson.

    D&C Cleric.

  5. I was also a student at the wing under John Mcmanus. I have sometimes read the unkind malicious comments posted anonymously on here about him. Some ex students have their own agendas to serve. Gossiping anonymous attempts to besmirch anyone's reputation are far from Christ like. I can only say for any short comings this man displayed in the time I knew him he was nonetheless an upright man. I know many other ex students who are of the same view. I am heartened to see his reinstatement. May God bless him for his perseverance.

  6. Is there any news of fr peter donnelly returning to his ministry. He was also found not guilty and from what I've been told he's a good decent man . Ofcourse it's possible he doesn't want to return and who could blame him

  7. I echo Unknown's comment. As a former winger myself I know how ill-suited John was to the delicate task of Director of Formation. Nevertheless John was always kind, always generous to me, and when I moved on from the wing and later out of Formation was concerned for my happiness. That could be justifiably contrasted with some D&C priests who pretend not to see former seminarians on the street. I wish John every blessing.

    1. You must have been one of the ones he "liked" then?

    2. I doubt it. We had many disagreements.

  8. With all due respects, 'Josephmalachy' and the other anonymous defender of JMcM: 'Joe..mal..' admits that John, known to many wingers as "Phyliss", was "ill-suited to the delicate task of Director of Formation". And anonymous contributor refers to his "shortcomings".

    Aside from the accusations that led to John's stepping down from ministry and those now being disproven (and I also wish him well for the future) - nevertheless, the misgivings of many who were in the so-called 'Wing' at a certain time are valid and those former students have every right to feel aggrieved.

    The 'Wing' was, in my experience, a very dysfunctional place and anyone who, as "Phyliss" so obviously did, gets 'a rush of blood' to the head (or any other extremity), when given so much power, over young men in their late teens and early twenties, is extremely suspect and utterly unsuitable for what is, indeed, a "delicate task".

    There are a legion of reasons as to why the 'Wing' was fxxxed up. McManus is one of them.

    Add into that mix "Dicky" McKeown who lived on an entirely different planet in those days.

    Add into that mix the other ordained hangers-on, lurking and sniffing around the 'Wing' and its young inhabitants, in those days.

    Add into the mix the dysfunction emanating from Cruella Deville herself - and her cronies - over in Lisbreen (one of whom, of course, was the bold Phyliss) - all added together - you have quite a toxic brew.

    I suggest, to the two defenders of Phyliss' honour, that some of their fellow students were not so fortunate as they were - and were adversely affected by their experiences in the 'Wing', subjected to the 'tender mercies' of McManus and his merry band.

    I wish JMcM no harm at this stage and I am happy that he has been cleared of the criminal accusations against him. However, the problems that many of us experienced were not in the realm, necessarily, of criminal behaviour. They were caused by the extremely unhealthy atmosphere that pervaded the 'Wing' in those days - unhealthy for a number of reasons - not the least of which was the manipulative and exploitative 'gay' subculture hiding in plain sight.

    Bishop Pat has referred, for example, to McManus' involvement in the Donaghy scandal and the treatment of a student gravely affected by the actions of this particular criminal and predator.

    I hope that JMcM's recent trials will make him a truly "upright" man and a kinder, more compassionate, priest. I genuinely wish him well but his exoneration of criminal behaviour does not negate his abuse of power in the past.

    He now has opportunity to be a truly holy and good priest. If he accepts that grace, he will make reparation and amends.


    1. This is a very good, accurate and non bitter account of The Wing during the McManus Pontificate.

      Many good and highly well intentioned young men were badly treated and badly damaged by their experiences there.

      McManus,McKeown, Walsh and others are responsible.

      The place was a wasps nest.

    2. In my experience, McManus, under the guise of being a "man's man", quizzed students, often aggressively and always in a creepy way, about matters he had no business or right to be asking about. As dean, he was encroaching on the internal forum which is forbidden. His 'piety' was basically a load of mawkish and maudlin, auld slop!

    3. Anonymous, I am defending no one's honour. John was unsuitable in his task, but perhaps I am of a different generation of ex-students. It was a truncated student body that I joined, and if there was any untoward behaviour it would have been revealed to all of us. Perhaps in a seminary of more than eight young men things were different, granted. Unfortunately we were taken for granted a lot. Please don't presume that I didn't suffer just because my take is different.

    4. Maybe so, Josephmalachy. Those who appoint people to roles for which they are unsuited bear the ultimate responsibility. I hope those in charge of formation now are healthier people.

    5. My dear fellow prelate, Bishop Buckley, please afford to myself - along with Baroness Nigella van Klimptenhoeffen, Mistress of the Choristers at St Petranella's Cathedral, Prince Albert St, Belfast, the opportunity, though the good offices of your esteemed meeting place, in Cyber Space, for Thinking Catholics, to wish everyone a very joyful Yuletide!

      We look forward to giving to you and your avid readers, manys a right old rolling around the floor laugh in 2016. God save the queens! Rule Britannia!

      I hope you don't mind me using your blog site for this purpose but, when I read that poor hapless Noel had sent you a Christmas card, I thought I would jump on Postman Pat's van -as it were.

      Yours, ever so affectionately,

      The Venerable Dean, the Rt Rev Msgr, the Dr. Hugo Herbert Hooting,
      c/o Somewhere Over the Rainbow,
      The United Kingdom of GB and NI.

    6. My Dear Dean Hugo,

      So kind of Bishop Buckley to allow you greet us.

      Looking forward so much to our annual Wassailing, on Boxing Day, around the wee streets over which St Petranella's looms so imposingly.

      Shall we meet as usual at the top of Prince Albert St?

      Can't wait to Muah with the Baroness.

      Yours, etc.

      The Dowager Duchess Delilah of Dundonald.

  9. I hope that Fr MCM has the opportunity to read that superb post from Ex-student. He should read and ponder every word and carefully.

  10. Is this the same J McManus in Rome in my Time? Is there any comeback on the false accusers. The church during my growing up was a strange and wonderful world somehow strangely enticing. Any mishaps i encountered were due to naievity on my part or that of others-no lasting damage. What is the modern seminary like? Has all the old rubbish been eliminated

  11. Can't answer your query from any personal experience Sean. It's 50 years since I left one.
    But it's instructive to read what Mark Dooley reported in the Irish Daily Mail on 21st March 2012, after reading the report of the Apostolic Visitation to the Irish Church. His report can be googled and found under heading: "Why Irish Church must fumigate its Seminaries".
    To quote one bit of it: " Irish seminries are hotbeds of serious moral decay devastating the church in Ireland".
    Given the customary speed of change within the RC church, especially its Irish branch, I can't imagine much has changed. That is, given the decline in numbers, if there still remain any seminaries worth considering!

    1. MMM Thank you & Seasons greetings to you and yours

  12. Most people do not have criminal convictions. Most people pose no risk to children or anyone else. Is nothing more expected of a priest?

  13. I suppose, Anon @ 02:34, there's none better to answer that than Pope Francis, and I think he gave strong indication of his expectations in his weekly audience on the 12th Nov 2014, when he spoke of the qualities of a true minister of God, who should......
    [I quote/summarise:]
    " ...never be authoritative, but humble, merciful in serving brothers and sisters with humility, generosity, wisdom and compassion, having a firm faith and sincere spiritual life, hospitality, sobriety, patience, kindness, goodness of heart, not putting themselves in the centre, or trusting only themselves....."

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.