Saturday, 7 May 2016



Various comments have been contributed to this Blog by people who were and are unhappy with priest's attitudes to money - one commenting about how a priest was happy to relieve an elderly person of money.

I asked myself what have my experience of clergy and money been?

The first incident I remember was from the early 1980's. One night I was the priest on duty in St Peter's Cathedral on the Falls Road. The door bell rang and when I went to the door there was no one there but there was a large envelope lying on the floor and written on the envelope was: "FOR THE PRIESTS".

When I opened the envelope I found £16,000 in cash inside! There was no name or note explaining.

I brought the envelope to the room of the parish priest - Father Vincent McKinley. He was obviously delighted to see it. He told me to leave it with him and never to tell anyone what I had seen.

Vincent McKinley

Now £16,000 was a great deal of money in the early 1980's. Today that £16,000 would be worth £48,000 !

Any donations that we received at the time were publicly acknowledged during the announcements at the end of Mass. 

That £16,000 was never public announced.

And if the money was for THE PRIESTS  should McKinley not have divided the £16,000 among the 5 serving priests at the time with each of us getting £3,300 each? That never happened.

I believe that Vincent McKinley, who loved money and who was a gambler ( one Saturday in 1982 he lost £2,000 on a horse race ) pocketed the whole £16,000 for himself.  

Afterwards I deeply regretted that I did not keep the money and spend it on my parishioners, many of whom were living in abject poverty.

Vincent McKinley also specialised in visiting women pensioners and asking them to lend him their savings and that he would give it to their relatives when they died. I do not believe that those monies were ever returned !

Another parish priest of Down and Connor - Father Michael Coppinger - specialised in relieving old parishioners of their antique furniture and antique clocks. Sadly, he took his own life as the parish priest of Glenravel, for a money related reason. 

Michael Coppinger - First from left
In recent times we have heard a lot of talk about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I believe that the sexual abuse is minor in comparison with the abuse of money by clerics. The issues are:

1. Priests and bishops stealing parish and diocesan funds from parish accounts and collections.

2. Priests targeting parishioners, especially elderly ones, for their money.

3. Priests favouring rich parishioners rather than poor and receiving money, gifts, meals in expensive restaurants, holidays and flights from rich people.

4. Priests not declaring their total incomes in their tax returns.

5. Priests and bishops decorating their houses to palatial styles. 

6. Priests and bishops wining and dining like millionaires. 

7. Priests golfing and socialising 5 days a week. 

8. Priests and bishops travelling in first and business class on flights. 

9. Priests and bishops using Church funds to maintain their boy and girl friends.

10. Priests and bishops selling Church property to secular businesses for big bucks instead of selling them to local people focused groups !

11. People coercing old people to change their wills in their favour without families knowing.

When I say all of this - please understand that I am only scratching the level of financial abuse by clerics in the Catholic Church. 


  1. I was reading this morning in Ps 119:36 'Bend my heart to your will and not to love of gain'. Each one of us is only a steward over the things in our possession. This priest in reality did not have money, the money had him. ‘We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it; but as long as we have food and clothing, let us be content with that’. (1 Tim 6:7-8).
    Temptation is always presented as something good, never as an evil but that which is set before us is to test what lies within our heart. Each one of us will have to give an account for what has been entrusted to us.

  2. MourneManMichael7 May 2016 at 16:01

    Glad to see you've picked up on this issue Pat.
    In my comment yesterday (@12:45 three posts back under the "C. Dallat by Prison Chaplain"), I asked the very blunt and central to the issue question as to what protocols, if any, exist for RC clerics in respect of gifts and donations.
    Subsequently several comments note the lack of response. Maybe that absence is revealing and while still early, signifies the whole unsatisfactory nature of the subject.
    Your blog ably highlights the issues. So hopefully there will now be a sensible response and debate of the issues.

    I would go so far as to say that if the D&C diocesan establishment fails to make a sensible and reasonable acceptable public response within two weeks, it will further demonstrate its inept, corrupt and mercenary nature.
    I am particularly concerned in respect of the recent sale by the Newcastle RC parish of a redundant school site to Lidl after reneging on its prior agreement to the site sale to the local council for a much needed pool and leisure centre. Local parishoners are incensed at this blatant disregard for local community need in favour of money, especially as the site was originally donated "for the benefit of the community"
    Grasping greed trumps community need, again!

  3. My mother- in -law always remarked that the local Priest visited the people with money in her area. always a cap in hand. She struggled to bring up 8 children, very few priests visited her home to ask how she was. I have heard of elderly parishioners leaving their homes and life savings to the Catholic Church. Is this noted ? Who keeps the books.

  4. I have been following this blog now for a few months and I always like to give a scriptural response to some of the many problems highlighted. As far as I can see, we are right on course with God's time table and referring to the present signs of the times I would like to quote from (1 Tim 3:1-7) where Paul says 'But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
    having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth'...... Alas all these things are happening right now. !!!

  5. I am a recent follower to your blog Pat and I commend you with your own personal truth and honesty and the reality of all aspects of the church. In truth ,and no disrespect meant, all you are mentioning is nothing I am not already aware and familiar with, but I feel that you are putting it out there for us all to comment give us a voice on matters we are unable to discuss with our own. Thankyou

  6. I'm sorry, but I think this article is deeply unjust. Not because I think every priest is perfect, but because through many years' involvement in St Vincent de Paul and other fundraising capacities, I know that many of our priests are extraordinarily generous men. They so often quietly redistribute any surplus from their stipend among parishioners who are most in need, or to help clear parish debts that they didn't cause, or to get extra resources for their schools. I have often been refused offerings I tried to give for mass cards or tokens of appreciation after funerals etc, or told to put the funds into the Trocaire box.

    Can we please moderate our tone to make sure we acknowledge that most people are good, and that most of our priests are working hard, generously and to the best of their ability? Otherwise sensationalist gossip will just drag us all down with it.

    "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." (1 Thessalonians 5:11): a good examination of conscience for us all. Thank you.

    1. As someone who has lived INSIDE the priesthood for 40 years I think you are very naive.

      I could tell you stories from within that would make your hair stand.

      But you are entitled to your view and entitled to have it published.

  7. There are many good people who are very naive when it comes to all dealings off the Catholic Church. I was told a few weeks ago that poor Sean Brady was such a gentle quiet man, and that he could not understand why people had demonised him in relation to the church and child abuse. He was young and only did what was asked of him. I am sure those boys and there families who had to sign a letter never to speak of what had happened would not share that sentiment.

  8. I don't think I'm naive, because I certainly think there are priests who fall foul of greed and cause terrible scandal. But surely you agree that there are many good and very generous men among our priests? I just think that if we tar them all with the same brush, we will take away the good name of those who are working hardest - which is unjust.

    1. I have met very good priests in my life - but sadly they have been a minority.

  9. Pat, you are the gold within the rough. I just wish there was more gold out there!
    Please don't ever feel disturbed by negative comments...your heart is bigger than them.

  10. As long as ordinary Catholics remain subservient to the priesthood, scandals will abound.

    Jesus was clear: his disciples were to be servants, not masters. By and large, Catholic clergy, especially the Vatican, have been disobedient to that command ever since.

    The Catholic priesthood has been the bane of the Catholic Church. Sadly, it has been facilitated in this role by fawning lay Catholics, of whom some post comments on this blog.

  11. Again Pat there is a great volume of silence from the Clergy.....that tells the truth in itself really!

  12. I am a priest of Down and Connor.

    I do not steal money from my parish or parishioners.

    I have never benefited from a will and I do not court the wealthy over the less well off.

    I do not live in palatial surroundings and I do not wine and dine myself or others - nor do I expect to be wined and dined.

    I am from a working class family and I have no other income than my monthly stipend. I earn about £15,000 a year. I pay my taxes.

    I do not maintain a girlfriend - nor a boyfriend for that matter.

    I do my best to help the poor and charities from my limited resources.

    I have never travelled business or first class in my life.

    I do not play golf. It is a bore!

    I have absolutely no doubt that there are shocking examples of clergy who are money-grabbing and money-obsessed. I am also deeply disturbed by the sexually immoral behaviour of some clerics. Many of us know who they are and the time-bomb under them is ticking.

    I believe it is a grave injustice to portray most priests - as in Pat Buckley's article - as grasping and avaricious. That is not my experience of most priests. There have always been some who have £ signs in their eyes but it is not most priests.

    The people of God know who the good priests are who, despite failures and human weaknesses, strive to serve them.

    Those who are corrupt and who corrupting others - I wish they would either get out or be removed. Pat Buckley writes incessantly about these men and all that he knows about them. It is all "nudge nudge, wink wink". I believe that is intentional and agenda-led.

    Pat, if you have information, would you for heaven's sake blow the whistle once and for all. You would be doing everyone - including the evil doers - a big favour.

    1. Dear Father, I fully accept all you say and you, therefore, are one of the good ones.

      Yes D&C is on a ticking time bomb. Noel Treanor knows much of what is to be known and for some inexplicable reason is doing nothing!!! Is he compromised himself in some way?

      If I have an agenda is is a good agenda - ultimately - the service of God and people.

      You must know that to publish things you have to have proof that will stand up in court if challenged.

      I knew all about Ciaran Dallat for years. When I got the proof I acted.

      There are several situations on the boil just now and I promise you when I have the level of proof I need I will not delay.


    2. Bishop,
      You were ordained to preach the Gospel - The Good News - I have never seen Good News proclaimed in your contributions!
      And it is there, I am sure, in Down And Connor - why do you not mention it - and put a little balance in in what you say???

  13. Was at mass this morning as usual . Is there anywhere a more boring and uninspiring priest than Fr Liam Toland. Surely priests must receive some training at the very least in presentation. Never saw so many, of the few who were there in the first place, bored out of their skulls! I have said it before but definitely any time he appears to say mass I will be out the door!l

    1. His nickname is "Fr Too-Long" allusion to his tendency to mind-numbingly protracted sermons.

  14. This is a most unkind and, of course, a very public comment.
    I do not know this priest - but I am sure that he is doing his best! And if he is doing his best he will have some good effect - and perhaps a better effect than some erudite orator!
    The Cure of Ars - St. John Vianney was not noted for his appearance, preaching and general ability!
    I am sure that many of his Parishioners appreciate him!

  15. ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz!