Thursday, 24 March 2016






"Orthodoxy versus orthopraxy is a fine balancing act the Church is always struggling with.

As a former priest, now married, and incidentally unemployed, I find this dichotomy at play in a very real and tangible way in my own personal experience. Leaving priesthood was traumatic on various levels. 

As a priest I was very safe when it came to orthodoxy. I pretty much accepted the Church's teachings on everything. My Achilees heel was celibacy, when in conscience I felt I was also called to marriage. 

I am now paying very dearly for following my conscience. The Church was ruthless in abandoning a loyal servant. When I chose to leave and marry all my celibate friends completely disowned and abandoned me. It was if I was a raving heretic. 

I have paid very dearly for choosing another path. Unfortunately due to my lack of skills and training I have not been able to secure a job in any form, even the most menial. 

I am wondering if my CV stating I am a former priest is mitigating against me. Who would trust a former priest in this climate anyway?

My bishop doesn't give a toss.....all he was worried about is that I signed the laicisation papers to complete a neat canonical process. He doesn't give a crap about issues of basic survival....why should he, given that he is living in clover himself. 

That's the trouble with clerics. They live in the head. They can afford to. They get paid handsomely for living in abstractions. Disembodied servants of the Church. I know. I was one of them myself until I had to acknowledge my humanity. 

The hypocrites who really annoy me are the ACP (Association of Catholic Priests) priests. They shout and complain relentlessly, challenging orthodoxy. They pride themselves as liberals and fearless mavericks and rant and rave about the Church....that is until their bishop, superior or CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Rome) official threatens them. Then they realise their radical dissent may impinge upon their clerical privileges i.e. income, roof over their head, material comforts etc. Suddenly, mouse-like, they retreat back into their comfort zones to lick their wounds. 

It's fools like me who suffer. Orthodox, quiet, non-confrontational, people prepared to fall on their sword to follow their conscience with dignity. 

I can tell you I have followed my conscience with dignity, even apologetically, penitentially, and sorrowfully and all I have received is ostracisation, a complete withdrawal of material support, loss of position and so called status.

I have paid hugely for trying to live in an honest manner. For my honesty, I have been punished where it truly hurts. monetarily, materially, financially, only because of celibacy and nothing else. I fully accept all the doctrines of the Church. I failed in this one discipline and my life has been impacted upon in a very hard way.

It's not an equal playing pitch. In my diocese there are paedophiles who have not been suspended....I know at least two....there are active homosexuals and heterosexuals....priests with children...and here I am, the fool who is paying the ultimate price....loss of home, employment, vocation, for choosing to be honest.

It does make me sick....Anonymous".




  1. I am not surprised at how this man has been treated by the Church, his Bishop and his Diocese. They will have wanted him off their books as soon as possible. There will have been no pension arrangements, no redundancy, no termination benefits, no recognition of the good work he will have done over many years. That is all based on the idiotic presumption that priests are 'self-employed' and therefore masters of their own destiny and the Diocese does not have any responsibility for them. Perhaps somebody does need to challenge that in law ? I note that the principle of vicarious responsibilty of Dioceses for priests has already been established when it comes to abuse cases. It surely is only a matter of time that the responsibilities of Dioceses to those who work for them are established, particularly the rights in law about sickness, employment, redundancy, termination etc. etc.

    I hear exactly what this man is saying about skills and employability. For so long the Church assumed that the grace of ordination gave priests instant wisdom and capability to do almost anything, and therefore did not spend time or money on educating men properly in the skills of life necessary for employability. I think this will still be the case many years after my own experience of seminary training. I only realised how poorly equipped I was when I moved in to chaplaincy work with secular organisations, and had to raise my game considerably in order to have any credibility. 'Father says so' does not wash when you are working with very well trained and capable people who are not inclined to be star struck by the clerical collar ! Father Rory from Armagh, about whom much has been written recently, and presuming that he might be looking for another role in the near future, will find that his years in seminary and as a curate will equip him very inadequately to enter the world of work. He, and others in his situation, will need to be re-educated and learn new skills.

    One suggestion I hope might be useful to the man who has laid down ministry to marry: Assuming that all else is okay, and that the only reason he has left in conscience is to marry, why does he not look at ministry in other Churches ? He says he was orthodox, but even the most orthodox nowadays will accept that there is salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church, and that other Churches have an integrity and validity. I know of a number of Roman Catholic priests who, after a period of time, have joined various Anglican Communion Churches, and carried on in ministry. Of course, it depends on the individual, the Church, and a period of discernment.

    1. Thank you for that very informative comment.

      When Cahal Daly sacked me in 1986 I did challenge the whole issue in law.

      I first of all brought him to the Industrial Tribunal for unfair dismissal. The tribunal chairman, a reputable judge, found that in law I was self employed and a subcontractor to Down and Connor.

      I then brought it to the High Court. In the High Court the Church was treated much like a Golf Club. I had to prove that Daly sacked me otherwise than in accordance with the "club" rule book - which in the Church's case was Canon Law.

      Only if I could prove that Daly contravened Canon Law would the High Court come to my aid.

      I could not get a canon lawyer to give evidence for me - other than an elderly one from England with dementia!

      The High Court found that technically Daly had not contravened Canon Law and therefore the court could not help me.

      I agree that we need new legislation to address this problem.

      But that is asking one ESTABLISHMENT to legislate against ANOTHER ESTABLISHMENT.

      Very difficult territory.

    2. MourneManMichael24 March 2016 at 18:16

      An excellant post Anon @12:38, insightful and sensible.
      I particularly endorse your second parag that the customary seminary training lays no realistic foundation of requisite skills to operate effectively in the 'real world' outside the sheltered confines of delivering clerical practices of 'hatching, matching and dispatching'!
      I recall how poorly equipped I was in the '60's leaving seminary after nearly six years of 'training and education'. Looking back, the level delivered was mediocre, even in religious matters, and despite having been perceived as educated (as a seminarian) by my then lay contemporaries, I only realised the inadequacies of that seminary curriculum, (both in content and intellectual rigour), by comparing it to later education at Scottish and English Unis.
      Linked to this discussion of priests leaving, can someone enlighten as to whether priests customarily pay National Insurance stamps, either by themselves, or via some diocesan or religious order/society group arrangement?
      One way or another they certainly should pay/obtain NI stamps to secure future pension entitlements. Given the way diocesan authorities abandon former priests it would be sensible forward planning, and I hope this comment sets some current clerics thinking ahead.

    3. Pat, isnt it true that DDC is paying a pension of sorts to certain priests convicted of child molestation? If so, then why can't they do likewise with this man?

  2. Pat, I refer to my post on 18 March at 14.03 in which I said that any priest who follows his natural instincts of wanting and needing love, affection and companionship with a partner and who leaves priesthood can expect to be ostracised.
    He is no longer a member of the clergy club. Any priest who shows support or concern would be considered to be breaking ranks and rather than coming to the attention of the bishop (or his spineless lackies who report in) will keep his head down. The gospel's entreaty to love thy neighbour as thy would love thyself goes for nothing.
    I am not surprised at the experience of this former priest ( please nobody post the shit about once a priest always a priest) does not surprise me. It's the behaviour and the response of the body disfunctional.
    Good luck to you. Hold out. Follow your heart and your head. Live your truth and live in the light. You will be as happy as you make your mind to be. I trust that you and your partner trudge the road to a happy destiny. Be good to each other and love each other with abandon.
    Many of your former colleagues will look at you with jealous eyes. Lots of them will secretly admire you and your strength to move on but can't say it. Leave them in the hands of the mind control brigade and sexual repression police. Let them live out their lives in quiet desperation.
    Stay well and be happy.
    Dalriada Dick

    1. MourneManMichael24 March 2016 at 18:23

      Well said DD.
      There was a recent post by a lady describing her bishop's shoddy treatment of her priest partner and herself. They are now happily married and I hope their story proves inspirational and comforting to the original poster.





    1. That statement was dragged out of Eamon Martin after nearly a week of rumour.

      I bet no statement would have been made today were it not for the persistence of this blog on the topic.

      PP Armagh.

    2. Why can people not just mind their own business?
      Armagh Sam!

    3. Sam, a priest is not a private person. A priest is a public person who also lectures the rest of us on how to live our lives.

      If am am going to follow a priest I expect him to be practising what he preaches - and when he does not it is my business.

      If priests stayed out of our business we might stay out of theirs!

      Armagh Aine.

    4. Armagh Aine I couldn't agree with you more very well said !

    5. Wrong Armagh Aine. You cannot on one hand compalin about the lack of 'rights' for clergy in terms of support during periods of change in their vocation and on the other hand blog untruths, half-truths and rumours about others, claiming they are public people, deserving of unreasonable ranting and raving. This blog is full of contradiction. I read about the lack of perceived justice for some, then I read nonsense and injustice (rumors, accusations, hurtful personal opinions) about others. This blog is nothing more than a 'bitching' session for those who do not seek nor know the truth about others. What is the real agenda of this blog? To attempt to destroy the reputation of others without the proper the checks and balances of reasonableness. Although, ironically, anyone attacked on this blog is seen as a good person. Good luck Rory, don't listen to the ranting and ravings of this 'bitching' session.

    6. At least this blog gives us, the voiceless laity, somewhere to debate and express our views and opinions. Where within the so called Church, are we given the same opportunity?

      No. We are simply told to "pray up, pay up and shut up".

      Armagh Aine

  4. Surely Eamo of all people (especially being a Derryman) should know that the moment he asks people (especially the Armagh folk) not to engage in rumour and slander he's really firing the starting pistol for the mouths to go into overdrive.
    As a matter of interest who was MC at the Chrism Mass today.
    Dundalk Danny

  5. Celibacy according to scripture is optional and not a legal requirement but it is a man made law that came in the 12th century. This priest ‘failed in one discipline’; here is where I see a problem. Far too many people within the church are living the wrong side of the cross. If you are married to the law as St. Paul said in Romans 7 then you only have to fall down on one part and you have broken the whole law are living under condemnation. The message of the Gospel is that because of the cross we are now married to him who was raised from the dead and there is no condemnation. All of our problems are a result of our obedience or our disobedience to the word of God. As Christians our guide should be the word of God and not just our conscience, because as Paul says in Romans 2 your conscience will either condemn or acquit you. It’s another way of saying ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. One person can do something and feel guilty another person can do the exact same thing and feel ok, which is why we have this priest feeling punished and other priests doing the exact same thing and feeling ok. Paul tells Timothy that in the end times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. Freud taught that you can still the voice of your conscience by repeatedly doing something over and over again. If you remove your conscience then you have no control over your passions. Before you can sin you have to still the voice of your conscience. To this former priest I say ‘commit all you ways to the Lord and your plans will succeed’ (Proverbs 16:3)

    1. MourneManMichael25 March 2016 at 01:12

      I'm obliged to wonder if this is same contributor who previously posted comment full of cherry picked biblical quotations to support his/her perspective/understanding of present world reality which appears entirely dependent on ancient texts from middle eastern tribes.
      I'm informed that these texts were much disputed in Christianity's early days, both in terms of their origins, interpretation, and relevance to the new Christian religion.
      Historical evidence seems to reliably inform that first Christian Roman emperor Constantine demanded clarity on this new religion and its dependent origins on these texts to point where his insistence ( and financial inducements) enforced an agreement on certain texts henceforth to be regarded as "sacred" and referred to as the Bible.
      So while I'm continually amazed and amused at Biblical dependent religious protagonists' 'born again' stance, (invariably of the doom and gloom 'repent or burn' variety), my understanding of the psychological and social inducements of the herd mentality imperatives provides more than enough evidence for me to consider their religious beliefs as patently risible.
      Thing is, that they simply don't consider matters of religious belief from any rational perspective. For any reasonable or rational query put, their invariable reply relies on yet another ...........quaint, ancient, cherry picked biblical text!

  6. Dear Pat,
    What a sobering contribution this former Priest makes, to the question of ministry in the Catholic Church.
    I was personally very struck by his remarks, because I went through a very similar experience, in D&C some years ago.
    Fellow Priests whom I had worked with and known for many years, and some of whom I counted as friends, quickly withdrew their support from me, and I fast realised that their support/ friendship was utterly conditional on my continuing as a serving Priest. They were unable/unwilling to help me in my transition to a new life. Similar things happen to people when they leave a cult - the separation is brutal and rapid, and one can see in Priesthood a very strong cultish theme.
    I believe there are a considerable number of Priests who are unsuitable to continue in ministry, but such is the fear of survival outside of the group that they stay put, and drive themselves and many other people crazy in the process !

    Former Priest of Down & Connor.

  7. What a waste of an obviously good brain on useless scholarship ! All that stuff about celibacy in the various books of the bible are about as useful to modern society and younger people as the timetable for the Chinese railway system is to a road sweeper in Magherafelt!! Expend your energies on something much more useful and relevant. Get into medicine or town planning. And for your own good get out into the fresh air
    more! No offence intended.

  8. Dear Fr I survived. I will quite happily forward you my cv Pat can give you my details. i am no Einstein & am not rich or famous. I am currently an authorised lay minister in C of E. R C orders are recognised by anglican communion. My journey is not an easy one but fekit Im glad im here

  9. Tell him to dry his eyes and welcome to the real world. No employer continues to be financially responsible for someone who voluntary leaves their job for whatever reason. It is never too late to learn new skills - hence the reason for adult classes at numerous colleges. If he has left the priesthood then it is up to him to re-educate himself and make his own way in this big world.

    1. My! Such sobriety. Such understanding. Such wisdom. Such compassion.

    2. As a lay person reading this I agree with the blog above, get on with it and move on. My mindset is not lacking in compassion, understanding or wisdom. If priests want protection in terms of money etc, take insurance out! I have had to change my direction three times in life, oh and with three kids, a home and at the time an ill wife to keep. I did not and will not claim that 'others' have a duty towards me. My wife passed away, I am still brining one son through university, I work in a lab in a Belfast hospital! I was a 'bricky' when the economy no longer needed me, I became a taxi driver and eventually trained as a lab assistant. As a paying lay person, I am not willing to pay for you or any priest who wants to leave, that is wrong. I do not lack compassion, I say get on with it. Try going through your changes in life nursing a dying wife, emotionally supporting children through witnessing their mummy die in pain, keeping them in school and on track and having to change jobs! I had no choice, you have no choice. Maybe I am lacking in understanding though, all I can say is man up and get on with it.

    3. I thought exactly the same as you anon 23.43 . But on the other hand I also understand what he/she is saying . There's plenty of help out there you just need to go out and get it

    4. 24 March 21.37-Fair comment!

  10. in Elvira (Iliberri), a small town that once existed near Granada, Spain. This council produced canons that dealt with a wide range of matters, from clerical celibacy to apostasy. Although it is clear that the focus of the canons was on the sexual mores of the clergy and laity. Elvira was the first Western council to dictate that priests should be celibate. Its canons, however, did not circulate widely.