Friday, 1 July 2016


Hannah Robinson

For most of her childhood, Hannah Robinson had no idea who her dad was.
The inquisitive schoolgirl kept asking her single mum questions about him, but all she was told was that he was a university lecturer.
It was only when she reached 12 that her mother revealed the bombshell truth – Hannah had been fathered by a Catholic priest.
And his church bosses had tried to bully her mum into hiding the explosive secret – with one even coldly suggesting Hannah should be put up for adoption.

Now, after nearly 30 years of failing to find acceptance and love from the man who fathered her, Hannah has received a groundbreaking apology from Britain’s most senior Catholic.
Yet her disgraced dad is still allowed to say Mass at a parish in the south of England.
For Hannah, 38, it is scant recompense for what she really wanted: a loving father.
And, instead, the married mum-of-three has been torn apart by her feelings over him. “Covering up the existence of your child and not being honest with your colleagues and congregation smacks of hypocrisy,” she says.
“How can you represent the Church as a priest and preach about love and family when your actions in your life show anything but that?

Hannah Robinson as a baby with her mum, who was told to keep her a secret

“I’m now in a place where I don’t wish my dad any harm. I believe he is a hard-working priest who serves his parishioners well.
"But the issue surrounding my paternity has affected me deeply.
“Like many women in similar positions, my mum was coerced and bullied into keeping my father’s identity a secret.
"I was left with this deep sense that I was a source of shame to my dad – but I didn’t ask to be born.”
Hannah’s Catholic mum met her dad at university in the 70s.
They started a relationship despite him training for the priesthood.
Hannah says: “My mum loved my dad and she insists he was considering leaving his seminary until she fell pregnant.

“He was aghast and arranged a meeting with a senior priest who was his mentor.
"This priest suggested my mum should go and live by the sea until I was born and then have me adopted.
"She was horrified and refused. The priest then told my mum if she wanted to bring me up, she’d have to keep the identity of my father a secret.
"I think my mum struggled with the concept of standing up for herself against such a powerful institution.”
Documents show her dad, ordained a month after Hannah’s birth in 1977, is listed on her birth certificate and that he paid regular maintenance.

Hannah Robinson, aged 11, when she believed her father was a university lecturer

But he also told her mum the child support money was dependent on him having a job – and he warned her he might be sacked if his secret was discovered.
So, for over a decade, she told Hannah her dad was a university lecturer, scared even to reveal his real name.
Hannah says: “I asked a lot of questions. Eventually she told me my dad was a priest.
"I attended a Catholic school and I have to admit it was very strange, but I wasn’t upset.
“I was simply determined to meet him, convinced he’d fall in love with me and we’d have a normal father-daughter relationship.”
Tragically, there was no chance of that.
“When I finally went to meet my dad, in my early teens, at the office of a Catholic mediator, I felt sick with nerves,” says Hannah.
“I expected it might be like something from a film. Naively, I thought we’d both burst into tears and run into each other’s arms.
"But he was very in control of his emotions. He didn’t hug or kiss me.
“There was no warmth or love. I remember feeling really overwhelmed by it all.
One thing I was desperate to ask was whether I had any brothers and sisters. He assured me I didn’t.
“At the end of the meeting, he told me we shouldn’t meet again for a few years. I was crushed.
"He still didn’t love me and that really hurt.”
It was several years before Hannah saw her dad again.
She says: “On our second meeting, I asked if I could meet some of his family as he’d told me I had two aunts.
"He told me no – because his sisters didn’t know I existed. He came from a very strict Catholic family.
"He said it would upset them if they knew he had a child. After that, I felt so worthless. At school, I’d burst into tears for no reason.
“I was given tablets to help me sleep. I had lovely friends, but I knew they could never understand what I was going through.”
When troubled Hannah left school, she threw herself into a party lifestyle and was seriously injured on holiday in Tenerife after a heavy night of drinking.
She fractured her skull in three places and suffered liver trauma after falling off a mountain ledge.
She says: “That was a wake-up call. I started to focus on the good things in life. I realised how lucky I’d been to have such a brave and supportive mum.”
Hannah now has letters her dad sent to her mother during her childhood.
They show little emotion, only discussing financial arrangements and signing off with “yours sincerely”.
But in one letter, written nearly 20 years after Hannah’s birth, he finally acknowledges how stressful the situation has been for his former girlfriend.
He wrote: “Things have been, I realise, acutely difficult for you and a big strain. You’ve been carrying on heroically.”
Sadly, Hannah’s story is not a one-off. It is estimated Catholic priests have fathered thousands of ­children worldwide.
Coping International, a support group for the secret offspring of these men, has had hundreds of ­thousands of inquiries since it was set up in 2014.
With the organisation’s help, Hannah has started to come terms with the circumstances of her birth and has written a memoir about her ordeal.
She also recently met the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and, in an unprecedented move, he issued her with a written apology.
He wrote: “Your situation was certainly very difficult and distressing. One painful factor was that your mother was expected to keep silent about the identity of your father.
"This expectation is something with which you have grown up. I deeply regret this.”
Cardinal Nichols added that Hannah’s dad was unlikely to have been accepted into the priesthood if her existence had not been hidden from the local bishop.
Now she wants the Church to revoke its celibacy rules. She says: “It’s not natural for men to live without this kind of human contact and there is nothing in the Bible to suggest priests shouldn’t marry.
Perhaps if there wasn’t an expectation for my dad to be celibate we’d have had a rewarding relationship.”
Sadly Hannah, of Milton Keynes, Bucks, and her father have not met for over a decade. She does not call him dad. They have occasional contact by letter.
She is no longer a practising Catholic but considers herself spiritual.
She says: “I forgive my dad because I don’t think he ever set out to hurt or reject me. But there is a wider issue here which the Catholic Church needs to deal with.
A Coping International spokesman said: “Cardinal Nichols’ sincere apology marks a turning point for children of Catholic priests across the UK. In this regard, Hannah is a pioneer.”
A Catholic Church spokesman said: “Every bishop in England and Wales is willing to meet anyone in their diocese in a similar situation.”


There are many people out there who are in Hannah's position - their fathers are priests.

This has always been the case.

That's why in Ireland we have surnames like:

McEntaggart - The son of the priest.

McAnespie - The son of the bishop.

McNabb - the son of the abbot.

To me it is a cowardly, immoral and sinful thing to bring a child into the world and disown it or refuse to acknowledge it.

Any man who is a natural father and disowns his child is unfit to be a spiritual "father".

A child needs more than financial support. 

Any priest worth his salt would not disown his own child.

Any bishop worth his salt would make a priest take responsibility for his child. 

How hypocritical is it for a Church that goes on and on about the value of life and the evil of abortion - and then covers up for a priest who fathers a child !

In the end of the day the Church and its functionaries are more important than children in the eyes of the clerics.

And so continues the everlasting hypocrisy................................................ 


  1. Have we priests children in Down and Connor?

    1. I think we have a Baby McKinstry?

      We also have a Baby Kelly ex Fr Archie Kelly PP RIP.

      We had a Baby Dallat from Ciaran Dallat - baby did not survive.

      Im quite sure we have others!!!

  2. From Richard Sipe:
    To the average person, the demand of Canon Law 277 imposes a seemingly impossible task, namely perfect and perpetual continence. Although the church propagates the myth that bishops and priests are celibate, this is not based on fact. Several modern studies have used various methods to measure the degree of celibate observance. No researcher so far has assessed that more than 50 percent of Roman Catholic clergy at any one time are in fact practicing celibacy.....Roman Catholic clerical culture favors doctrinal rigidity, conformity, obedience, submission and psychosexual immaturity, mistaken for innocence, in its candidates. These are the personality elements that lead to advancement and power in the clerical system. Single men are more easily controlled if their sexuality is secret. Double lives on all levels of clerical life are tolerated if they do not cause scandal or raise legal problems. Sexual activity between bishops and priests and adult partners is well known within clerical circles. The secret system forms a comfortable refuge for unresolved gay conflicts. There is a new emerging awareness of the systemic nature of sexual/celibate behavior within the Roman Catholic ministry that is increasingly destabilizing to the church.

    1. Excellent quote from a distinguished expert.

  3. Good heavens. That means if we apply the 50% stat than the chances are Either Philbin,Daly,Walsh or Mageean had a secret lover.
    Well I suppose to quote from the old Kenny Rodgers song " there's someone for everyone and Tommys love was Becky!"
    Wonders never cease!

    1. Perhaps you are nearer the truth than you realise?

  4. My cousin who lives in Holy Family parish in Belfast ( very appropriate ) has had two children to the same priest. And he is still a PP and although the relationship has long ended ( he has another girlfriend in Magherafelt/ Dessertmartin area) he still supports the kids financially. A model of fiscal responsibility !

    1. Is his name Father Abraham - God promised him that he aould have many descendents :-)

  5. This sad and sorry tale also wreaks of misogyny. The church often condemned the unmarried mother by hiding her from public view. The Magdalene laundries are testament to that. The clerical caste protected its own as we see in this case. The woman and her daughter were just lesser mortals. Deception seemed more appropriate than honesty. Meanwhile,priests who had the decency to face up to and accept their responsibilities were often ostracised, stripped of their ministry and eventually laicised. Such hypocrisy and double standards.

  6. MourneManMichael1 July 2016 at 22:40

    I used wonder about the mental gymnastics and dishonesty of RC clergy on such matters until Pat nicely analysed it some time back as their justification of anything which preserved the RC church institution.

  7. All of which leads round to me asking about Fr Cairan Dallat. Any news of his whereabouts ? Seems Noel's little attempt to rehabilitate him may has misfired a tad. Anybody got the latest goss on the Ballycastle lothario?

  8. CD was on the alter about 4weeks ago in the Oldpark and was heard to say later that he was working in the prison already.
    Seems that Sean Brady has been lined up for a big cermoney in Knock in September. They keep pushing !!!

    1. There are others still to come forward in the CD case.

      It seems that Noel Treanor, who knows this, is happy to let one tooth be pulled at a time.

      But the end will be the same - a toothless mouth.

  9. The sad reality is the cover up. Sensus Fidei confirms celibacy is a ball of S*ite for most. In the early church it was Jew vs Gentile but at least they aired the washing in public. Pretense is another one of these so called modern deamons

  10. I am surprised that the priest in question who is the father of Hannah was even allowed to be ordained. It seems that she was born, or was imminently due, at about the time of his ordination ? Surely somebody other than the seminarian / new priest was aware that something was up, and should have asked questions ? And the Bishop should have taken his time about ordaining the man until the matter was resolved, suitable provision made, and the man owing up to his responsibilities, which were of his own making. Instead, we have a situation where the Church by and large colluded and covered up sufficiently so that he could go on his merry way.

    It is highly reminiscent of the mindset of the Church that stood by priests in order to protect their good name and the reputation of the Church in the abuse scandals of the past. The root justification for all of this is the overly inflated sense of sacredness and specialness that the Church has about priesthood. Sacramental sign. Indelible mark. Alter Christus. Etc., etc.., etc. That mindset is used so often to let the priest and the Church off the hook. It needs to change radically. And, examples need to be made in order to show priests and the faithful that the clergy are not some caste set above the generality of people, but have the same responsibilities for their actions as everybody else.

    Looking back to the previous post about whether one would recommend a young man to offer himself for the priesthood, I would say that unless and until this priestly culture is radically reassessed and changed, it is abusive to lead young men in to a way of life and a priestly culture that encourages them to think of themselves as eminently special, entitled, and set apart from the norm. I am not confident that our seminaries are doing that.

    I'm afraid that the Ciaran Dallas of this world, notwithstanding their inflated notion of their priestly specialness, should feel that harsh hand of reality, be made to face up to their actions and their responsibilities, and cease hiding behind the protection of their status, their Bishop and the edifice of the Church. Harsh, I know, but until the message is clear that a priest is just like anybody else and will be called to account just like anybody else we will continue to have priests swanning around the place thinking they are so special that they can get away with anything, and so far removed from the reality of life lived by ordinary people that they become a danger to themselves and the others.

    And I talk as a priest myself, who has long since come to understand the self-serving claptrap that is talked by clergy about being a priest, bolstered of course by the priestly sacramental theology churned out by the Church over centuries. A radical reassessment of the theology of priesthood is required. But, will we get it ?

    1. I am astounded, in a very good way, by your excellent analysis.

      The fact that there are priests like you out there is a cause for hope - a star in a generally star-less black sky.

    2. MourneManMichael2 July 2016 at 16:57

      I agree that the main responsibility and impetus for change should be within the clerical ranks.But being as deluded with their own self importance as they are, change will inevitably be slow, ....unless things change drastically. And the self sustaining clerical power structures of the RC church surely needs a strong external catalyst for change, something like strong minded able and well organised parishoners mounting challenges against PP and diocesan decisions on practical matters relating to the church and its handling of controversial issues.
      I have in mind the recently posted blog on problems in Drumbo and Carryduff parish. Or down here in Mourne country where the parish/diocese has just sold off a Newcastle redundant school site to Lidl after reneaging on verbal promises to sell to the Council for a much needed community leisure centre.
      More parishoner 'open rebellion' is needed in such matters, perhaps initially demonstrated by parishoners refusal to contribute to church coffers.

      Perhaps I'm being over idealistically optimistic here, and in reality, as more and more, (especially the young) disengage from RC church matters, it will simply continue to wither away, gaining momentum into oblivion.

    3. I agree fully with the comment from 10:25 - an excellent analysis of the mess the church is in. As a priest myself I feel that nothing will save the Irish church from oblivion. We have had an overly clerical church in Ireland for generations, entirely focused on the priesthood, and we have only encouraged lay participation in recent years as a response to falling vocations. In other words, the role of the baptised lay person has never been taken seriously because we had plenty of priests. Now that this situation is rapidly changing, we speak of the importance of lay participation but it's too late. The Catholic Church will become more or less redundant in Ireland as we run out of priests in the next 20 years and as lay people walk away.It may sound defeatist but the reality is, that as a church in this country we are finished! And there's no point getting upset about it.

  11. Misprint error above Ciaran Dallas Is this error or prophecy! J R Ewing for Bishop in D & C

  12. I'm the man from 1025, and I agree wholeheartedly with MMM. Until people take some kind of a stand and make it clear to Church authorities, even at the level of their local parish priest, that they are not going to put up with the silliness that is going on, then nobody will take the blindest bit of notice. I know from my time as a parish priest that a critical analysis of the offerings on a Sunday were essential to the parish's wellbeing and to my material wellbeing. So, the most direct way for people to let it be known that they want to engage with and discuss change is for them to let it be known where it really will be noticed - in the financial support it gives to the Church, at the parish level, at the diocesan level, and even at the Peter's Pence level ! They will certainly sit down and take notice then, I assure you ! I did when I was a parish priest !

    1. MourneManMichael3 July 2016 at 00:46

      Thanks for your comments.
      But who has the guts to stir the pot when most potential dissidents, just decide they can't be bothered.
      Apathy reigns supreme!

  13. MMM. You should start the pot boiling. Why don't you go today to your local church and start the protest by making a scene of not making a donation at collection time.
    That way you will be doing something practical to hopefully put an end to apathy reigning supreme. Whatsmore, as I'm sure a man of your great and wide ranging intellect will appreciate, you will derive a great amount of personal satisfaction from knowing that you have fulfilled the old maxim "Let it begin with me"
    Always remember this MMM that talk and keyboard activity is cheap but action is the magic word!!
    Go for it Micky !

    Dunsford Danny

    1. There is not even the remotest danger, Dunsford Danny, that MMM will do as you suggest because he is of a higher class than the plebs who go to Mass and worship God in their Parish Churches every Sunday. MMM is an atheist and likes to snipe from the sidelines. Catholics like me contribute to the support of the Church because it pays the electric bill among other things and keeps the project afloat from a merely material point of view. Also, our priest, like most priests, is a decent human being who does his very best. Buckley is a scandal-monger who gleefully peddles problems without solutions. Toxic!

    2. MourneManMichael3 July 2016 at 12:59

      Excellant DD! Very much like the sentiment and rationale.
      But I'm afraid no can do as I don't have a local church. Now a humanist, I haven't attended church for about 50 years other than for tribal and family events like marriages, funerals etc.
      Mind you when still a churchgoing believer in my 20's I did create a scene a few times by questioning clergy. I did so having left a major seminary just before sub-diaconate, so knew (I thought) what I was talking about. But finding RC clerics so obtuse and inflated with the sense of their own importance, this was the begining of my own drift away from religion.
      I retain respect and affection for the undoubted good done by individual clerics who follow the fundamental ethos of Christianity, but I have no time for the peripheral trappings of formal religion and the abusive institutional straitjacket the RC church has become for so many.
      But I continue to stir the pot when I can, both as a 'keyboard warrior' and otherwise, by creating the ammunition for others to use.

    3. I have always set out plenty of solutions - optional celibacy, womens ordination, elected bishops and priests, 21st century theology of church, priesthood, sexuality etc etc.