Friday, 18 November 2016



The IMPORTANT comment below was sent to this blog:

I don't know, Pat, if you have met many families from where they had a suicide in the family.

I'm distressed that you gave no comeback to the first post where Sam inferred that if a suicidal person went to confession and sought forgivness, he or she would not take their own life.

Surely you should have give a reply to the horrendous post.

The comment by Sam referred to was:

Many years ago,our priest was told by a Psychiiatrist/Psychologist - not sure which - that most of his patients required the ministration of a priest - Sacrament of Reconciliation - rather than his efforts.
Perhaps the alarming increase in suicides - and other problems - could be curtailed considerably if not entirely by seeking God's forgiveness and mercy in this Sacrament of reconciliation!

Is this worthy of consideration?


FIRST of all can I say that I AM VERY SORRY if I was remiss in not commenting on Sam's comment relation to SUICIDE and CONFESSION.

SECONDLY, not only have I met families who had suicides - MY OWN FAMILY has experienced suicide. 

A number of years ago my nephew Christopher (23) had become involved in drugs in Dublin and was not able to pay off his drug dealer. The dealer forced him to look after a sawn off shotgun for him. Sadly one day Christopher used the gun to take his own life. 


To make Christopher's death more painful for the family the then Catholic Archbishop of Dublin - Cardinal Desmond Connell - good Christian that he is - refused to allow me the use of a Dublin church for me to celebrate Christopher's funeral.


Thankfully the more Christian Unitarian Church in Dublin stepped forward and gave us the full use of their beautiful church on St Stephen's Green, Dublin. 

And only a couple of weeks ago my niece Sharon (37) died as a result of drug abuse - a slow kind of suicide.


So I have personal and family experience of suicide and tragic death. 


Let us be very clear - when someone is mentally ill they need PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL HELP.

A priest IS NOT a medic or a mental health professional.

Of course a priest - if he is the right kind of man - can be of enornmous help spiritually, emotionally and pastorally.

But he must offer this help carefully and preferably in full and total co-operation with mental health professionals.

If the mentally distressed person is suffering from guilt or out of some fear of having let down God or others the priest has a role to play in helping to melt that guilt and to reassure that they are totally and absolutely loved and forgiven by God.

The priest in the parish can also be a good resource for parishioners suffering from anxiety and depression. They should feel that they have a friend in the priest - a friend they can call on at anytime of the day or the night.

But I have seen stupid priests complicating someone's mental distress by attributing their illness to evil forces, the Devil or evil spirits.

Mental illness is an ILLNESS. It primarily needs to be treated and managed by MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.

The priest - in or out of confession - has a role to play - but it is a complementary role and not a primary role.

Of course as a Christian I believe in miracles. But I have never seen a real mental illness cured by a priest in or out of the confessional.

Having said that I have seen people with great burdens of guilt being helped by confession by the belief that God has forgiven them some wrong they did. 

We priests need to be very careful about meddling in serious medical problems. 

Time and time again in my priestly life - even this week - I have been approached by mentally ill people for help. I do all I can to listen to them and reassure them BUT I ALWAYS refer them for proper professional help.

I AM NOT saying that people who were suicidal were never helped by their spirituality.

On occasions in my own life I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety and I always found that my faith, my spirituality and prayer helped me. 


When I was a priest in Cardiff I was chaplain to a large psychiatric hospital which also had patients who were criminally insane. 

When I was in Divis Flats - 1978 - 1983 I ran a weekly support / spiritual group for people with anxiety and depression. The group's spirituality was based around the devotion to OUR LADY OF MENTAL PEACE.

I always made sure that there were professionals available for us to refer group members to.



O Lady of Mental Peace,
Mother of Tranquility and
Mother of Hope, 
look upon me in this time
of disquiet and weakness.
Still my restless spirit,
teach my searching heart to know
that God's love for me
is unchanging and that the suffering
which He may will for me now
is to draw me closer to Him.
Let thy gentle peace and His ---
which the world cannot give ---
be always with me, that I may
be sanctified: and then:
I beseech thee
for the grace to bring this
peace to others.
Jesus, My Savior, I give myself
entirely to Thee through Mary:
Our Lady of Mental Peace,
pray for me!


  1. Pleased to see the Unitarians helped at time of need for your family.
    I knew nothing about them until a few years back when friends who had moved away told me they'd joined local Unitarian church,and one was in training to become a Unitarian minister. Knowing her high intelligence and spiritual nature, I read up about Unitarianism and was impressed, particularly their absence of doctrinaire obligatory beliefs.

    1. They are a very good group of people. The Dublin church is very open and liberal.

      Their All Souls church is great too under the leadership of Rev Chris Hudson.

      In N Ireland they are attached to the Reformed Presbyterians who can be very different.

    2. Sorry: Non Subscribing Presbyterians.

    3. Dear Bishop, please note, as I had previously posted the following - now slightly altered -

      Please note 10.51 that my main point was 'Is this (confession) worthy of consideration?'' I inferred nothing - repeated what I had been told - and it does seem to me that it is certainly worthy of consideration.
      Note also the good Bishop's immediate reply - seemed to agree with me and the fact that he quoted an almost identical conclusion in the main blog - in italics - from his neighbouring psychiatrist.
      Never in this world would I try to distress any one.
      Since suicide is becoming so prevalent sure every curative possibility should beer considered
      The inference – comments – even suggestion - came from two psychiatrists. Was it not logical, therefore to ask the question – Is this – confession – not worthy of consideration?
      An Bishop – you did reply – almost immediately – Is confession worthy of consideration?

      Your reply
      Bishop Buckley16 November 2016 at 10:44
      Yes it is.
      But it helps ONLY when the priest has good people skills, compassion and is capable of sending people away guilt free and burden free.
      And later -
      Bishop Buckley16 November 2016 at 22:52
      I think that the mental and the spiritual (not religious) are very connected.
      The spirit, the mind and the psyche are connected.
      I finde that some of your contributors seem to have serious comprehension problems
      And is it not reasonable that Psychiatrists- psychologists should noe recognise a spritiual problem in some of their patients.
      Bit of a rush on ath the moments - hope that this clarifies things.
      Note particularly the I latched onto this theme due to the fact that the Bishop quoted - in italics - from his neighbouring psychiatrist

  2. I am thinking of a parish priest in Down and Connor who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. It seems to me that he has spiritual, sexual, psychological problems.

    He is secretly gay with an attraction to teenagers.

    1. Relevance to this subject is ????

    2. Being "secretly gay with an attraction to teenagers" is neither a crime nor a sin - unless he has acted on his attractions and those involved are minors.

      I presume that is NOT the case?

      If it is the case you have a serious responsibility to report the matter to the police / social services.

    3. 12:09 Connection between spiritual and psychological problems.

    4. I know who you mean and I agree he suffees from stress and is a staunch promoter of church teachings on impure thoughts, that masturbation is a mortal sin, sex outside marriage, homosexuality etc.

  3. "Confession" is a great gift and sacrament of the church but needs reworking for 21 century as does preparation of children for 1st confession and Communion. Concentrate on Communion first and introduce confession later when children may have a better concept of sin as opposed to naughty

  4. Am I alone in thinking that Sam got a raw deal from the anonymous blogger who considered his innocuous input as horrendous.
    He does seem, at least in this matter, to be on the same wave-length as you, Bishop.
    It could be said that he got onto this subject because of you quoting you psychologist!
    Would appreciate your comment on this!
    Sam would never attempt to be hurtful,
    Your blogger jumped to an unjustifiable conclusion

    1. Its perfectly clear to me that Sam meant absolutely no harm by his comment.

      My psychiatrist neighbour was referring to people attending him for issues like anxiety, depression and counselling.

      Suicidal people are ACCUTELY ill and need emergency care and possibly hospitalisation.

      Im sure Sam would agree.

    2. Thank you, Bishop, and my near neighbour, Pip, for your concern and reply.
      I believe that every possible effort should be made, medically, spiritually and otherwise to curtail or prevent the enormous increase in suicides.
      I do appreciate your kindness - very much!
      Armagh Sam

  5. The comment that if more people go to confession there will be less suicides is dreadfully ignorant and offensive. It blames the person. The person does not need a priest or a Jesus or a God who says you will go to Hell if you deliberately choose suicide. Recovery should be based on healing not on threats or the fear of sin.

    1. 21.55
      No one made such a comment. A question was asked - can confession be of value - no answer was given
      No one said that a Person goes to Hell if they commit suicide.
      If someone commits suicide - how can they recover?
      Please do not read into a comment or question something that is not there!
      Comprehension problem - how apt a description of your attitude!

    2. Anonymous19 November 2016 at 01:01
      The Unitarian church in Dublin is so available to all kinds of belief -lets be honest - it stands for what? A ballroom like room facilitating second marriages, do's and never don'ts? One must have a stance to take in life and the Unitarian church seems to have none except 'gun for hire' with no questions asked? Pat, much and all as I love your blog, obedience is greater than sacrifice and the reason mary was blessed was not associated with her Motherhood but her obedience. As Jesus was blessed in her womb because he also surrendered to the will of the Father, even to death on the Cross meaning emptying Himself of Himself - denying His selfishness to be of service to the Father. Am I ranting and raving here or is that the Mystery of the Cross? Setting our will to His will? Lets not get carried away with ourselves - come to one's senses and return to the teachings of the Church and not the standards of our Bishops bur Christ Himself. Obedience to the Word is everything pat, let's not think we can start a new church to suit ourselves, Bishop.

    3. Thank you for your comment - much of which I would argue with.

      Jesus taught that LOVE , not obedience, was primary.

      Love can call for obedience or Holy Disobedience.

      If Jesus visited Dublin today I think He would find His Spirit more present at the Unitarians on Dtephens Green than at DM's Pro Cathedral.

      I cannot see him going for a Cordon Bleu dinner with Canon O Reilly and Deacon Michael Gorgeous Byrne at the Shelbourne Hotel?

    4. If being mentally sick and ending your life through suicide would send you to hell, then dying through physical sickness would also send you to hell when the word of God says, 'by his wounds you have been healed'.

    5. "Am I ranting and raving here...." 09:14?



    6. MMM
      I always read your contributions with considerable interest!
      It does seem to me that your normal courtesy has abandoned you on this occasion!
      9.14 was a little bit 'over the top' but scarcely 'ranting and raving.' Otherwise I - am most of humanity would qualify for the Asylum.

    7. Perhaps, MMM, your are having a little stomach, acidic problem. Best cure - at least for me - better than Zantac, Bisodol and Bisodol is the old-fashioned cure of a teaspoon of baking soda in a quarter cup of milk. It is an instant cure.
      I recommend it highly for some of the more ascerbic and illogical contributors to the Bishop's blogs. And, MMM, I do not consider you a permanent member of this grouping. This, I am sure, was a very temporary aberration.
      Baking soda - try it.