Wednesday, 27 April 2016

FATHER PETER DONNELLY - IS HIS CHURCH TRIAL OVER?

FATHER PETER DONNELLY - IS HIS CHURCH TRIAL OVER?





OVER TWO YEARS AGO the BBC carried  an article about Father Peter Donnelly which reads:

"A priest from the diocese of Down and Connor has been found not guilty of child sexual

 abuse in a Belfast Court. 

Fr Peter Donnelly (71) was charged with six counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency against a woman dating back to the 1980s.
The former parish priest of Drumaroad and Clanvaraghan was before Belfast Crown Court on 14th January 2014, where a jury of nine men and three women had been sworn in and was ready to hear the case.
Fr Donnelly denied all the charges, which were alleged to have taken place between 1983 and 1988. Two previous juries in the case had been unable to reach a verdict on the charges against the priest.
After the third jury was sworn in, prosecuting barrister Kate McKay told the court: “The Crown is not offering any evidence in this case,” and Judge Gordon Kerr QC directed the jury to acquit the priest of all the charges, telling Fr Donnelly that he was free to go.
Fr Edward McGee, media liaison officer with the Diocese of Down and Connor, told journalists that now that the criminal process is complete, the canonical investigation will begin.
Eddie Magee

“This is normal procedure,” he said. The review under the Church’s safeguarding policy and procedures had been suspended for the course of the statutory investigation and the “civil proceedings will now resume”.
In a statement, the Diocese of Down and Connor said they continued to encourage “anyone who has a concern of a safeguarding nature to contact the PSNI, Social Services, or the Diocesan Designated Safeguarding Officer.”
Fr Peter Donnelly  voluntarily stepped aside from ministry toassist the investigation by the civil authorities in September 2010.
During his absence, Fr Kieran Whiteford from the nearby parish of Loughinisland has acted as Administrator to Fr Donnelly’s parish of Drumaroad and Clanvaraghan.

Dromaroad Parish Church.


While not prepared to comment on the case, he said he was pleased at its outcome.
Meanwhile, speaking outside the Laganside court complex on Tuesday, Fr Donnelly’s solicitor said that due process had taken place “in which Fr Donnelly has co-operated fully and he has now been found not guilty”. 
The canonical phase of the investigation into the allegations against Fr Donnelly now commences, which means that the priest will remain out of ministry for the present".

The Father Peter Donnelly case, in various forms, criminal, civil and canonical has been continuing for 6 years now since 2010.

This seems to be an extraordinary length of time. Peter Donnelly is now 73 and must retire in less that 2 years time. It looks as if these matters may not be decided before he retires.

Peter Donnelly and I served together in the early 1980's in St Peter's Cathedral. 

Co-incidentally he is a close friend and golfing partner of Father John Murray who is currently on leave from Rasharkin.  

32 comments:

  1. It is actually unjust to put an individual though such a lengthy process. The stress and anxiety must be horrendous. Having said that if there is sufficient evidence to warrant action from a civil as opposed to criminal perspective - are the powers that be just waiting on the poor man reaching a point when he can retire quietly and no more fuss?

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    Replies
    1. Yes - There is that old legal maxim: !Justice delayed is justice denied".

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    2. What if the "poor man" actually did abuse children?

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    3. Well he was found NOT GUILTY in a court of law and therefore he deserves to be regarded as not guilty I would have thought?

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    4. Many's a guilty criminal is found NOT GUILTY for all sorts of reasons, Pat. The legal system screws victims over all the time. Did you ever hear the expression of Charles Dickens - "the law is an ass"? A Church trial seeks the semblance of truth. It has different criteria from criminal and civil trials. They tend to look for forensic and empirical evidence which is hard to gather after many years since the offence. The Church trial asks, why would the victim say this? Does it sound true? I'll give you an example. Michael Ledwith, former head of Maynooth college, never was convicted in a court of a crime. But the Church found him guilty and Pope Benedict dismissed him from the clerical state.

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    5. And the Irish Bishops gave him a £250,000 golden handshake to go to the US!

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    6. Did they really? If they did, you should expose that, if you have any proof.

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    7. I have no "proof" - just the talk in clerical circles. Ledwith knew a lot and the bishops wanted rid of him.

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    8. Below is interesting:

      Ledwith stood down in 1994 after agreeing a ‘personal professorship', a €100,000 pension contribution - paid by the bishops from Mass collections - and six months' salary in lieu of notice. He reached a settlement with one complainant 1995.

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  2. After an particularly nasty encounter with a priest a number of years ago in our home parish my wife and I made a decision to stop going to mass and withdraw or financial support for our local parish.
    The more I read this blog the more I'm convinced we made the right choice.
    What a rotten lot!

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    Replies
    1. If you knew all that there is to be known I think you might be very shocked!

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  3. Both Fr Murray and Fr Donnelly found celibacy a very difficult law to observe.
    I think both of them might well have had more integrated and productive lives had they chosen a different vocation as young men.
    The obsession with golf always struck me as a means of escape. All in all a sad tale.

    Priest of Down & Connor.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Father, I think both you and I know that the same can be said of so many in D&C and further afield?

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    2. Yeah as a former cleric I'm sorry I didn't accept an offer to study medicine at uni rather than opting for the seminary many years ago. Perhaps it would have spared me years of misery and set me up for life, at least professionally and financially.

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  4. I think this blog is gradually revealing the truth about Down and Connor.

    Would Bishop Treanor not be wise to discuss the diocese with Bishop Buckley - at least from the point of view of being fully informed?

    Pastor Emeritus 11

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  5. A family friend, once a priest in Belfast, told us that if the secret activities of many D&C clergy were "laid bare" and they were suspended as the result there would hardly be enough priests left to cover chaplaincy in the city's hospitals.

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    Replies
    1. That was then. Imagine what its like now.

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    2. Once again the subject of knowing comes up. I cannot believe Bishop Treanor is not fullyinformed. What we are seeing is a recurrent technique in church (mis)management of denial. Unfortunately because the information is published here this technique is much less plausible than it used to be!
      Mark my words, the *public* information on this blog will have been clocked, as high up as Rome. But they would never talk to Bishop Buckley about it because they would approach it as a diplomatic problem of having an 'episcopus vagans' meddling in a diocese.
      'No that's my fort, you're not playing with it. ' very sad.

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    3. I have no problem being called an episcopi vagantes (wandering) but I suppose its an unusual for someone who has been in the one place for 38 years :-)

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  6. I am a 72 year old male. Over the past few years I have been experiencing difficulties in the bedroom department. Can anyone point me to a D@C priest who could advise me on how best I can remedy this unfortunate state of affairs.
    I understand a number of clerics may be able to share best practice on this very personal matter.

    Dalriada No Dick

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    Replies
    1. This is humour????
      Golly!!!
      Sam

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    2. Dalriada no dick . At your age the only bedroom trouble you should be worried about is pissin the bed

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  7. Dalriada. I presume you are from the north Antrim area. You are lucky. Depending on your preferences you could seek advice from either CairAn Dallat or another local lad Keith O Brien

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    1. Send him to bishop Walsh that aul streak o misery wud put the notion outa him

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    2. Would that Paddy Walsh HAD problems in the bedroom dept. It would make him human :-)

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  8. Sam, more fresh air for you,my boy !
    Like an earlier contributor I think this blog is hilarious.

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    Replies
    1. What you find hilarious I find low level, low grade and low class!
      We are all different - thank God!
      I would consider myself to be in need of psychiatric care if I saw humour in what you consider to be 'hilarious.'
      I walk a lot in the fresh air, have a dog an two budgies - better companions than most of the human race!

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  9. It's a pity some of our clergy didn't keep dogs and budgies as companions. The bishop would have less fewer problems!

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    1. I knew a bishop who kept bees and didn't let the sun go down on such problems.

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    2. Bishop Philbin kept bees. He preferred communicating with them to communicating with priests.

      He once reprimanded me for sending him a Christmas card!

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  10. To anonymous 27 April at 22.26, I think you may well be need of some friendship. I to have Pets and I love them dearly, ,but to say they are better company than that of human beings would suggest to me you have had difficulty interacting with others. Please appreciate that many of us also have had difficulties communicating with others ,primarily many members of our clergy. This is our way of discussing it. We can't find our priests to discuss anything. It is hard catching them in between work and there "down time" in Italy, San Francisco ,Tenerife and touring the world with international singing careers.

    may be for lots of different reasons, you

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    1. N.B. "..., than MOST of the human race��m!!! I have any amount of friends - there are gatherings in my house most evenings And I get on well with my Priests - good men!
      Sorry I did not put down my nom de plume
      Sam

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