IS THE PRACTICE OF PRIESTLY CELIBACY IN CRISIS IN THE DIOCESE OF DOWN AND CONNOR?
IF IT IS HOW MUCH DOES THE BISHOP, NOEL TREANOR, KNOW ABOUT THAT CRISIS?
IF HE KNOWS THE FULL EXTENT OF THE CRISIS WHY IS HE NOT DOING MORE ABOUT IT?
IF HE IS NOT AWARE OF THE EXTENT OF THE CRISIS WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT HIS ROLE AS BISHOP - THE "OVERSEER"?
I have been ministering the the area covered by Down and Connor for 38 years now - since the summer of 1978.
In that time I have become aware that many of the D&C priests have not been observing celibacy.
I have become aware of these issues because a small number of D&C priests communicate their worries about the crisis to me.
I have also become aware of the crisis because, being an independent priest and bishop in the area victims of priests and some others have come to speak to me about their problems - often after getting an unhelpful reception from the diocesan authorities about their issues.
Father Ciaran Dallat is a good example.
Father Dallat's lady friend, whom he made pregnant, came to see me. I talked to her about what she wanted to do. SHE decided that she wanted to give going to Bishop Treanor a try. I did not think she would get anywhere - but it was her decision.
She went to Bishop Treanor and he gave her tea and listened but she felt that she was getting nowhere and that Father Dallat was still working in St Peter's Cathedral and even giving mid week lectures about FAMILY and MARRIAGE VALUES.
She broke her story in the SUNDAY LIFE and Father Dallat was removed and that meant that she did not have to look at him everyday living life as a priest.
Today I went through the list of clergy of Down and Connon on the diocesan web site.
I discovered - just by reading the list that I knew about:
FIFTEEN (15) PRIESTS who are of have been sexually involved with women parishioners - and a small few have been involved with more than 1 woman. Some of them have had the same woman in their life for years.
That is THIRTY THREE (33) PRIESTS.
Of course there are others that I do not know about.
I know of several priests who have fathered children.
If you only take the ones I know about that is some 20% of priests.
The Church has various options:
1. To turn a blind eye and to simply move from breaking scandal to breaking scandal and handle each one as it breaks.
2. To make celibacy optional for priests.
3. To challenge and remove sexually active priests - which will of course lead to more priestless parishes.
Maybe they think that an "unfaithful" priest is better than no priest?
Maybe they think that the most important commandment is the 11th Commandment - "THOU SHALT NOT BE CAUGHT"?
Maybe they do not want to open the diocesan, national and international CAN OF WORMS?
However in the meantime "faithful" priests feel cheated, "unfaithful" priests lead a double life and a whole lot of people are unhappy and getting hurt.
And how does all this fit in with the words of Jesus - "THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE"? - JOHN 8: 32.