Wednesday, 27 January 2016

DOWN AND CONNOR - CELIBACY CRISIS ???

Noel Treanor
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.



SEVENTEEN (17) PRIESTS who have been or are sexually active with men. 



ONE (1) PRIEST who has been sexually active as a bisexual man. 



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.

28 comments:


  1. I'm a priest but not in D&C. I've been in a relationship with a woman for many years now. She is single,no children. When we first embarked on this relationship I felt somewhat guilty but that eroded within a short time. I can honestly say that the relationship has humanised me. I have love,warmth and in a strange way a sense of significance in somebody else's life and she in mine. Had it not been this way then I would have felt lonely,isolated and probably been less understanding of the people I serve. Anglican priests, many in the Eastern Catholic Church marry. We should be afforded that same opportunity. Had this warm, loving woman not been in my life then this diocese would have been a priest less. (Actually I know another 5 clerics in this presbyterate in similar situations and at least one Irish bishop in a relationship with a friends cousin) Northern Cleric

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    1. Father, Thank you for that insight into your life - which I actually find very authentic.

      You probably would agree that there is a huge difference between your situation and the situation of a "Jack the Lad" priest who moves from woman to woman.

      I had to edit your reference to the bishop slightly for legal purposes. I hope you understand.

      I agree that celibacy should be completely optional - and then we would have happy and integrated married priests and probably a small number of happy and integrated celibate priests.

      How would you feel about a priest having a long term, loving and committed same sex relationship?

      Warm Regards,

      Pat

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    2. Good for you. I am in a relationship with a Priest and I know he would concur with everything you have said.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I would love to hear that my pp is in a long term relationship. I'd like to thinks he is happy, loves and is loved by someone - it is all too obvious however that he isn't fulfilled in this way. No one should have to live unfulfilled and isolated - it's unnatural and dehumanising. I applaud the priests who recognise this and are in relationships ! I'm just sorry you have to hide your relationship and hide the fact that you too are human !
    D&C Parishioner

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  3. For how long are we going to sit around talking about whether it's acceptable to priests to have relationships!!! They are men like anyone else so why shouldn't we expect them to behave like anyone else with whatever man or woman who is willing!

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    1. Many of us agree with you.

      But why should a priest have to engage in a "clandestine" relationship?

      How do you feel about priest who do not want relationships but just want to "use" men or women for sex?

      Is that in keeping with their vocations as christians and priests ???

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  4. I am a Down and Connor priest. I have never had a relationship with a woman before but I've been in love with a woman a bit younger than me for a couple of years. I feel incredibly guilty about it. I'm lonely and know that if I were to do it all again I might have chosen differently. I too know of other priests in relationships but I cannot bring myself to live as they do.
    PP D&C

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    1. You should not feel guilty about loving someone. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" 1 John 4:8.

      There is a world of difference between truly loving someone and using someone.

      Celibacy is a BAD LAW.

      Are we bound to obey bad laws ???

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    2. Dear Fr 27 Jan 16.25 The fence is for standing on to view the the paths ahead. Making it a permanent home is soul destroying-Being crucified without the nails

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    3. My heart goes out to you and to all good-natured sincere priests like yourself. To feel guilty for something so precious, life-giving and simply human as love should tell us right there that something is seriously wrong with this system.
      The loneliness, the fear to attach to anyone because at any given day a priest may be transferred, to not know all the wonderful gifts and blessings that a loving partnership bestows, is an abuse. "Love 'em leave 'em" priests aside, it is even more infuriating that this is imposed upon of God's most faithful, giving and loyal men, many of whom made the choice when they were young and impressionable, with not a chance of knowing what they were giving up. This is not what Christ wants, I am sure of it.
      I commend you and the other priests here who have been so good to lend their voices and share their very personal stories. I have been in a very exhausting, equally exhilarating and painfully frustrating tango with my own priest. Going on year three with only hints of our feelings uttered to one another, I cry when I think of him retreating alone in his cold stale rectory to face his weighty solitude once more. I have seen him come on strong and then retreat and pumish himself with guilt. I have seen his homilies come alive the next day because of a special Christmas or birthday gift I have given him, with a subtle message denoting love and support. He communicates his appreciation of our unique friendship often in his homilies, using words we have privately shared so I alone am privy to the underlying message. There he is only feet from me, but it feels like a fortress and a million miles are between us.
      Since we have danced this "I know you know, and you know I know" tango, parishioners have commented on how much more open and lively he is. That suddenly he is on the brink of tears when delivering his homilies. "What has gotten into him?" they ask in bewilderment. Love. Plain and simple.
      If the Church truly wants the best for its children and for the humanity in Christ's message to be powerfully delivered, they will end this patently self-serving, power-driven and political agenda to keep priests alone, hurting, and broken.
      God bless you.

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    4. I agree with everything you have said Acts2Four. I speak from the same experience.

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  5. Pat, I don't think priests should have to live in a clandestine relationship but unfortunately I'm guessing that they think they've no other choice.
    'Using' someone either man or woman will always result in hurt, no doubt. However they are entitled just like anyone else to 'explore' their sexuality as much as they want ... So long as the people involved are not vulnerable. Let adults be adults!

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    1. I agree. But many of the women especially some priests prey on are vulnerable - lonely, widowed, in pain.

      There are a small number of priests who deliberately prey on vulnerable people.

      I'm not too sure if we should "explore our sexuality" all our lives ???

      Is there not a time for commitment and enjoying your sexuality in the context of love ???

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  6. I can relate easily to my brother Priest at 16:25pm.
    I was briefly in a relationship with a woman a few years ago, but felt great guilt, and I eventually ended the liaison. My life has been very empty since, as it was the first time I really felt accepted and loved as an adult male.
    I'm drinking more than I should as a means of blocking out the loneliness.
    The Priesthood is and always will be at the centre of my life, but humanly speaking, celibacy has not been life giving for me.
    I need to be in a mutual loving relationship in order to live a truly human life, and yet I am faced with a massive dilemma.
    I'm of an age that I would not expect to father children, but I could I believe be both a caring Priest and a loving husband.
    Those role are not mutually exclusive in my eyes.
    The Church is afraid to relinquish control, and I fear that is a primary motive for retaining mandatory celibacy.

    Priest of D&C.

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  7. Dual Identity is fine for Batman & Robin but soul destroying for a good Priest though some (gobshites) may get a kick from it. The key I believe is sensus fidei. Let Priests come out of the closet Congregations appreciate there is nothing wrong happening-education needed & in this matter fek the Pope. I bet Iano Paisley snr is smiling in his grave

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  8. Pat, you seem passionate about this problem... Why don't you go to the newspapers with this issue - perhaps this would force some action to be done in this situation.

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    1. We did in the Ciaran Dallat case. It "solved" one "case" - for how long ???

      I genuinely do not want to hurt the good priests and their partners who are in non abusive loving relationships.

      The "Jack the lads" generally cover their tracks well - until eventually they feel invincible and at that stage they over play their hand and are indeed caught.

      Ideally I would like the priests of Down and Connor to put pressure on Noel to speak and act ?

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    2. The Papers dont care anymore. It is an internal forum issue within the church as a body. New Reformation Type is active but it seems priestsand people dont have the balls & priests dont want their financial security threatened

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  9. I left the priesthood some years back to marry. I wouldn't presume to judge those who have clandestine relationships.
    In a role which is increasingly that of religious functionary and service provider, priests can feel quite isolated.
    If given the chance,I'd go back to priesthood tomorrow and think I would be much more effective and confident with a supportive wife beside me. I would understand the struggles of people better. I now know what it is to be relatively poor needing to watch every penny. That has been a very valuable lesson for me.
    Speaking now as someone on the outside, I can understand the disconnect between clergy and people;the life I now lead is almost a parallel universe to the one I lived as a priest. I just understand 'normal' life better, the life most people live, with its struggles and difficulties, trying to pay rent etc. Being a priest carries its own dangers and can lead to a sense of entitlement and superiority (even unconscious). Living in a comfortable rent free presbytery with a steady income is a luxury I wish I now had again!
    I think being in a relationship can humanise us and teach us a few lessons in humility. I think a couple raising children could relate better to their local priest if he too was married with a family.
    I applaud all those priests who remain faithful to their promises. I respect their commitment and loyalty.

    Former priest.

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  10. What on earth do you expect the bishop to do? He cannot change the universal law on celibacy for Latin Rite priests? And the poor man cannot "police" bedrooms, cruising areas, etc..... I can fully understand a priest in a long-term, mutually loving relationship with one woman/man. The "Jack the lads" and their gay counterparts turn my stomach. I honestly believe they have no faith whatsoever and the whole business for them is a cynical game.

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    1. Maybe he needs to talk to the convened clergy about the universal law on celibacy?

      Maybe "policing" his priests is part of his role?

      I do not think it is an option to ignore the problem.

      And maybe he needs to make it clear to the priests the actions he will take when breaches are reported?

      I think Bishop Treanor seems or is "powerless"?

      In any event the current default position can't continue - or can it ???

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    2. The problem cannot be ignored. He should come down hard on those flagrantly flouting the law. We would be better off without them. They are an accident waiting to happen.

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  11. I am really amazed to read that even the big celebrities are undergoing the crisis, i am really amazed on reading this news because here only the normal people will crisis the celebrities in common but in my country there will be a separate opinion for each persons about the celebrity and so, there will be clash among the people itself which leads to forget the crisis among the people. This has been still continuing in these days too. On seeing those happenings, i have been very happy that i have got settled hear itself by going the permanent job in one of the leading online research paper service website because as the each day goes, the clash and fight among the people has been increasing on each day because of politics.

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  12. I'm not really sure what the 0941 submission is saying ?

    +Noel is in a difficult situation. He can't publically challenge the Church's stated position on clerical celibacy (that is well above his pay grade), and yet he can't really challenge what is the increasingly clear reality that many clergy have given up on celibacy as something which does not enhance their ministry or their personal wellbeing and health, and in fact is probably detrimental to those things. +Noel probably accepts quietly and privately that this is the case, and unless there is real scandal and things are shoved under his nose, he is not going to go out there and look for trouble. I suspect that the vast majority of bishops find themselves in this position. The truth is that mandatory celibacy is coming to its end. It is simply not sustainable. Most clergy know that and conive in the reality that they will have relationships which are able to sustain them and their ministry. These do not necessarily or always need to be genital relationships. Often, they are affectionate and intimate and sustaining without being genital and sexual. I think we need to recognise the reality and come to accept what is happening. There is a place for celibacy as a witness and charism. But, only for those clergy who are called to it as a true vocation. The vast majority of clergy do not have this calling and simply take it on as an unfortunate requirement in order to be ordained. We should be grateful that so many men are prepared to do that because without their willingness to live their lives in this twighlight world we would not have sufficient priests to minister. It's not perfect, but it is the reality.

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    1. MourneManMichael28 January 2016 at 16:21

      Straightforward sensible and accurate analysis.
      MMM

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    2. It is a very accurate analysis. I am a woman who has been in a relationship with a man who is a priest for 3 years. It started as a close friendship but quickly developed into more by mutual consent. We have a physically intimate relationship but we have never had sexual intercourse - that is our compromise towards our conflicted status. The priesthood is his livelihood and his security. It is made very difficult for him to leave because he would be given nothing. He feels a great loyalty to his parishioners so there is a lot of guilt attached to our relationship. We have tried to stay apart a number of times but we are in love and we are drawn back to each other each time. We are better people together than apart. Before our friendship started he was described by his parishioners as reclusive, shy, distant, non-communicative. Now they see a confident, empathetic, relaxed, happy, approachable priest. They believe it is because he has finally settled into his parish after nine years. No. It is because at last he has allowed himself to love and be loved. Still the hidden nature of our relationship causes us difficulties. We are strong enough together to weather it but I pray for the day when we can be open about our love and do things other couples do and that final weight of guilt is removed. It may not come soon enough for us but it will come. As said above, the current situation is unsustainable.

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  13. Anyone know where Ciaran Dallat currently is? Will he really be allowed back into ministry?

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