Tuesday, 20 December 2016



by David Weber THE TABLET

The Irish bishops have pledged to fund all counselling needed by clients of a new support group for the children of Irish Catholic priests, 

Coping International. Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin added: “I pray that Coping will be able to find ways which will bring the children of priests and their natural parents together for the benefit of both.” David Weber, the son of a priest, says globally thousands of people are affected

While much justified coverage has been devoted to child abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, a different issue, with again children as the main victims, has been largely neglected by the media and governments: the discrimination faced by children whose father is or was a Catholic priest.
Many rights thought to be basic in any modern society – the right to know one's father and be able to have open contact with him, the right to receive child support not attached to conditions, and the right to inherit from one's father, are being denied to children of priests, resulting in a discrimination that has consequences long into adulthood.
numbers of those affected are far greater than most people would expect. A 2010 Guardian article estimated a figure of 1,000 children were born to priests in Britain and Ireland. In Germany, the initiative I co-founded, Menschenrechte für Priesterkinder (Human Rights for Children of Priests), estimates a figure of around 3,000. I am the son of a German mother and an Australian priest.

When I gave these figures to Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke, an auxiliary in Hamburg, in a discussion programme, he replied "we don't have exact numbers, but 3,000 is a figure that is probably quite accurate".
The number of those affected who have demanded an end to the discrimination they have suffered remains low. The majority of those who contact our initiative, which focuses on the political and legal aspects of the issue, and those who turn to private support groups, demand that they remain anonymous for fear of the financial and social consequences. While this is understandable it is clear that change can only begin when those discriminated against speak out.
a child of a diocesan parish priest might sometimes have secret contact with his or her father, (who might often live close by), in my experience, the payment of child support is attached to a confidentiality agreement that results in immense pressure on the child not to tell anyone who the father is (and to, say, not even inadvertently call him "Dad" in public). Religious priests who father a child may be sent into mission on another continent.
The 2014 report on the Vatican’s compliance with the UN convention of the right of the child was almost revolutionary therefore in recommending that “the Vatican find out who [the children of priests] are, [and] take all necessary measures to ensure that the rights of those children to know and to be cared for by their fathers is respected.“ The convention effectively became the first secular authority since the introduction of the Church’s celibacy rule in 1022 to officially reprimand the Church on its treatment of children of priests.
Therefore the UN report is a threefold appeal: to the Catholic Church to end the discrimination of children of priests, to governments to do more to protect children of priests, who are also citizens, from such discrimination, and to the children of priests themselves, to more courageously fight for their rights.
It is exactly what needs to happen now.

Children of celibacy: What happens when priests' vows are too hard to keep
Catholic priests are supposed to be celibate but sometimes father children, but everyone involved can be trapped in a web of secrecy.
Roman Catholic priests take vows of lifelong celibacy. Probably the majority see it as a gift and a calling, and are content to sacrifice a sexual relationship and a family life for the sake of their ministry.
However, for some, a vow made with every good intention is not so easily kept – and sometimes children are the result. In historically Catholic countries like Ireland, this can result in terrible tensions, with the natural desire of parents to bring up a child together at war with shame, social disapproval and a desire for secrecy. Almost inevitably, it is the children – and often their mothers – who come off worst, with the children not told the identity of their fathers.
Six months ago, a new website aimed at helping support such children was set up in Ireland and has already received around 15,000 hits. It's a project of COPING – Children of Priests International – which was founded to help children come to terms with their experiences. It has had visitors from the United States, Italy, India and Australia as well as from Ireland, implying a widespread need.
The co-ordinator of COPING – whose father was a priest – told Christian Today: "The main problem is secrecy. Men who are priests and women –in the case of nuns – who wish to maintain appearances for their own personal sake, indirectly impose upon the child, the same secret that they wish to keep."
He pointed to a recent case involving a priest "deliberately scolding a mother, admonishing her, 'not allowing' her to tell the truth for fear of societal repudiation". "Pressures include imposed secrecy, confusion, bullying, scaremongering, placing the agenda of clericalism ahead of the welfare of a child. Thus an adult centred church exists, not child centred, which in effect is no form of church at all," the co-ordinator said.
Another issue is the confidentiality agreements imposed on women who have borne children to priests in order to silence them, which he described as "unethical". The Irish Bishops have declared them to be unjust if they "compromise the consent of the parties" and if they "hinder the basic goods of the child".

The co-ordinator referred to other pressures faced by priests' children, saying that while their position need not be problematic, other people's reactions often made it so.
"My own dad always brought me about with him and people seemed to somehow accept it, subtly acknowledging the relationship but it still could not be named," he said.
"One case we know of includes a priest who flew his child abroad but insisted on his adult child agreeing that he was a distant relative and the father barely acknowledged his child for the duration of their stay. This is very damaging. Others remain cool and aloof and detached, some others warm and appear affectionate.
"It boils down to this one question; what is more important, perception of reputation or the wellbeing of an individual child?"
The co-ordinator said that it was not automatically right for the priest to leave the priesthood when he fathered a child. "I personally, as the son of a Catholic priest am quite proud of my father for his work," he said. "However, nothing should stand in the way of a child's development and to put ministerial work ahead of the rights of a child is certainly unethical and undermines any goodness afforded by the same ministry."
He concluded: "If you are a woman who has had a child by a priest / religious, and so on, I urge confidence. COPING will support you in making representation for justice. To the children: you are more than a secret, you are a human being and let nobody tell you any different. If you are a priest, do the right thing by your child, if you have one; if you cannot do this, leave down the collar for you do not deserve to wear it. Where is the sin, to father a child or to hide the child?"
The website includes testimonies from children of priests and their mothers, including women whose lovers had died and who felt unable to tell their stories to anyone, including their children.
It has won backing from the Catholic Church and cites the support of the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev Diarmuid Martin, who said: "I pray that COPING will be able to find ways which will bring the children of priests and their natural parents together for the benefit of both." Its website also quotes Pope Francis, who as Cardinal Bergoglio said: "If a priest comes to me and tells me that he has gotten a woman pregnant...I remind him that the natural law comes before his right as a priest...just as that child has a right to his mother, he has the right to the face of his father."
The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has said: "The Bishops are anxious to ensure that appropriate support is being offered to all children. In particular they appreciate the sensitivity required in any pastoral outreach to children of priests."

Referring to the Church's counselling programme, the statement says: "The Bishops are actively collaborating with Towards Healing so that Towards Healing will be in a position to provide appropriate counselling / support to children of Catholic Clergy."


During my 40 years of ministry I have met hundreds of women and men who were priest's partners and a small number of priest's sons and daughters.

This is another hidden underbelly of the Catholic Church and it's celibacy rules that have NEVER worked and is still not working.

Among many other issues the RC Church must face up to it's obligations towards priest's partners and especially priest's children.

Lets break the secrecy about this issue.

Let priest's partners step forward and speak out and let's give them our FULL SUPPORT.

Let priest's children step forward too. They have done NO WRONG.

Let us take away their stigma.


  1. As someone who requested laicisation to marry, this type of secrecy baffles me. Sweeping it all under the carpet. Turning a blind eye. The only virtue seems to be coverup so 'as to avoid scandal'. I found that my honesty and transparency worked totally against me and only alienated me further from clerical acquaintances. I have seen abusers being shown more compassion. The terms of the laicisation do not allow me to frequent places where I am known which can be difficult in sparsely populated Ireland. The irony is that there is a cohort of priests out there in fulltime ministry who are fathers in the biological sense. It may be a small number but many would be aware of it through hearsay including these priests' bishops and even parishioners who choose to ignore it. This official silence can't be good for the self esteem of the children involved. It could only lead to further dysfunction. Denial is never a healthy thing.

    1. @12.25. You aren't allowed to go where you might be known?? It makes you sound like a criminal. I think that is disgraceful. And coming from a Church that should be showing compassion and understanding and even 'forgiveness' that you might choose a different honest path. I am disgusted. I am a Catholic by baptism but the more I hear and see the less Christianity I experience.

  2. Laicisation means NOTHING.

    All it means is that you are not a "cleric" which is a much different thing than being a PRIEST.

    One is a cleric at the whim of canon lawyers (the latter day Pharisees) but one is a priest FOREVER.

    I agree with you that its all about cover up.

    But JESUS said:


  3. It does seem, from the above, that Pope Francis' apparent recommendation is that the priest should leave to take care of his 'wife' and child.
    It does seem to be the proper thing to do - you do not abandon a child into obscurity!
    What ages are the priests involved?
    Have they any qualifications which could secure financial stability for a family.
    I cannot see any great demand in the 'market' for someone who has a degree in theology or philosophy.
    Can 'COPING' really help them cope?

  4. As we say in Lancashire "Tell the truth and shame the devil"

  5. A constructive positive blog highlighting an important issue Pat.
    In respect of Anon @ 12:25: what hold has the church got to enforce the requirement you refer to; ie not go where you might be recognised as an ex priest?
    Surely such imposition is meaningless and invalid unless one subscribes to and submits to the RC church's non sensical requirements?
    It is regrettable that average age of diocesan priests is well above customary child rearing age, and that in consequence the Irish RC dioceses lack a cohort of young energetic courageous priests prepared to challenge the hierarchy by getting married, having kids, and 'staying put' in parishes. A bit like your own stance with Daly Pat.
    It would certainly shake things up and would be interesting to see the laitys' responses. I think we can all guess how the bishops would react!

    1. I'm glad I did better today, Sir :-)

    2. MMM I would love to see a younger cohort of priests stand up to the hierarchy by getting married, having children and still ministering in their parishes. The current 'system' isn't working anyway. It is a facade behind which many priests are having relationships with men and women. I think too many priests live in fear of the consequences of standing up to the system. There is a comprehensive list of reasons on maltesemarriedpriests blog at the moment where many women involved with priests post.

  6. Priests partners & children need justice not necessarily counselling.Counselling should be available if beneficial. However it should not come with an implication that whoever avails of it is "guilty" or has "done something wrong" As for laicisation it is a construct of canon law, morally damaging and not worth the paper it is written on. It may even be in breach of human rights-the right to practice ones religion in freedom. Laicisation forbids a person to exercise any religious leadership or ministry not only in the R C Church but in other Christian Churches as well. The person is bound to secrecy as to the contents of the documents. I wonder how many laicised priests suffer in silence or on the other hand dont give a sh*te anymore or live in bitterness.

  7. Wont be able to keep a straight face at midnite mass when the armagh 4 come on stage....at least wont have the usual objections getting the children to go to mass....told them we are going to a panto!

    1. It will be the Armagh three because Rory boy has already left the stage. He has, however, been staying again recently in the Armagh Presbytery but that's all a bit hush hush. We don't want the lay folk in the City finding out.

    2. Maybe your time would be better spent staying at home and praying for a happy death?

    3. How I spend my time at home is a matter for me. What I pray for is none of your business so get a life and move on.

    4. Well actually it is now a public matter since you have invited us all to contemplate the disposition of your soul attending Midnight Mass. Though since you have also brought your children into the matter, I fear that not only are the exposed to their mother/father going to Mass with an improper disposition and intention (and thereby committing mortal sin) but that they are also being exposed to poor grammar and spelling. Just an Advent reflection for you. If you don't wish to pray for a happy death, that is, of course, your choice. Far be it from me to interfere!

    5. 18:58...Why go with a hypocrite attitude. You be best placed at home praying. That would be my doing if I had the concerns that you have.
      Portadown parent.

    6. Oops! Pharisee alert! (at 23:22).

    7. 23.22 perhaps you need to proof read your own text before criticising that of others. Also you need to lighten up. I doubt very much that someone taking the trouble to go to Mass really shows up with the wrong intention. You should worry more for all those children that don't go near a church at Christmas and have no idea what it is really about. There lies a great sadness.

  8. Pat, I hear +Eamon has been having quiet discussions one to one personally in Armagh with his younger clerics. This is because of Fr X etc. Some of them are secretly laughing at him, calling him Amy etc. He is proving to be like Arlene - do nothing. Like her, he is Happy just to be seen doing something without any substance. Amy & Arlene both a pair of patsies. Retired PP

    1. It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out Fr X's identity so EM is bound to know who he is. His lack of action against this scandalous priest indicates that the archbishop is unfit for office.

    2. EM is covering for a few active gay priests. His advice to them, "Whatever you do please be discrete".

    3. Aren't they the souls of discretion indeed? Writing on blogs about their sexploits with boys in their late teens. etc. Eamon Martin should be sent packing.

  9. 6.29... and so far only 6 comments.. I think that this a first.. is there a massive elephant in the room ? Maybe some people would like to comment, but feel overwhelmed.. where to start ?...because there are many issues associated with today's blog, not just one...
    Re. The first commentator.. he tells us that he left & married etc. He says at the end ;'denial is never a healthy thing'.. agreed ... and yet, he still feels bound by 'terms of laicisation'.. why ? whose rules ?.. you are free, you just don't know it..still trapped, in your head, because you signed a meaningless scrap of paper ?.. and agreed to certain secrecies ? Sounds familiar ?
    I too, don't know where to begin !..but I will try..
    I don't believe that there is a priest anywhere, who wanted to have a child;rather that a child was an inconvenient / unwanted result of his extra curricular activities... despite the fact that priests everywhere are currently engaged in massive preparations for a baby , due Dec.25...luckily, for this baby, it's made of plaster/ chalk & won't require much care / nurturing/ recognition.
    Rather, I think, that the problem underlying the focus of the blog is a major problem, underlying almost all others related to the catholic church..... the ego of priests / clergy.. ( obviously, all are not egomaniacs ; my experience tells me that most are, so apologies to decent men, who are who they say they are).
    The delusion that 'I am different' /'I am special'// 'a bolt of lightening hit me, in particular, out of the blue'/I 'I am god's chosen one' / 'I know more about god than you' etc... the very notion of 'vocation'??
    I don't know what this even means.
    I am not referring to priests who discover that they want a relationship & act in an appropriate way.. pursue such /leave.. whatever is involved in doing the right thing.. really, I am thinking of the many priests, many, who pursue sex for much of their lives.. yes.. crude as that..the 'type', skilled in flattery & acting, will always be equally skilled at selecting 'partners' naive enough to accommodate them.. preferably single women.. no 'baggage' like kids or dependants.. no one else in the house.. it's even better for gay predatory priests... no possibility of reproducing yeucky real babies ...
    the generations of innocents , are almost gone, who propped these guys up... yes, who also, in ignorance also created them..
    I wonder how many priests, bishops, cardinals, reading Pat's blog ( secretly, of course) , currently in sexual relationships, feel, in any way inclined to comment today..?
    None, I would guess..
    As Oliver callan ends his weekly r.t.e. satire show;'Go back to sleep Ireland'.

    1. Why is... your style...so ...breathless?

  10. Thank you for your post N. I am not trapped anymore but relived the past experiences a little in order to stimulate response. As you point out there is much to uncover beneath the surface and I do believe part of the laicization stipulation restraining how one practices their religion contravenes basic human rights

  11. As someone going through the laicisation process at present, I was curious to hear that conditions could be attached, I.e. not frequenting places you were known in. What other 'conditions'are there? On whose authority do the 'scribes' enforce them?

    1. On YOUR authority. So don't give it to them. Grow a pair.

    2. The conditions are on the authority of the law of the church and have no standing in civil law. I can preach in CoE parish- with appropriate permission/license from CoE Bishop to cite an example. Ask whoever is Guiding you through the process to explain the restrictions. I knew nothing about them till the Document arrived. Good luck for the future.

  12. A man ordained a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek and who then breaks his vows, not as a temporary lapse, but with a permanent intention to continue to break that vow, should be returned to the lay state without delay. As for the absurd idea that laicisation is a contravention of basic human rights, it is up there with the fantasy Maynooth confidentiality document, where we were treated on this blog to the laughable idea that a man who is raped on the Maynooth campus had signed away all his rights. In any event, those who agreed to the laicisation stipulation do not appear to have been unduly hindered from seeking ministry outside the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

    1. That document did have negative effects. The fact that it was linked to that hypothetical scenario was unfortunate because it distracted from the actual purpose of the document - namely to remove and seminarian's opportunity to appeal. It served to further imbalance the power imbalence that was already tipped unfavourably against seminarians.

    2. Jesus did not found Roman Catholicism, you idiot; he gathered round him a community of disciples, an assembly. And He told them to go out and preach the Gospel, not Roman Catholicism. He isn't, like you, into organised religion.

    3. 21.34. Nothing has stopped those..Seeking ministry outside RC Church. Exactly. The whole thing is a laugh and control gone wrong. However it is more difficult in Ireland to seek alternative avenues to practice ones religion unless things have greatly changed since my day. One denomination can not claim ownership of Christ. I am for Apollos .. I am for Paul...

    4. Pat you did find an avenue. You are the exception rather than the rule. How many others have the resources or the energy in the current Ireland without guidance encouragement and support

    5. Thank you Sean.

      I had no resources whatsoever. I was broke at the time.


      All three are freely available to anyone who wants to take the first step on the road.

    6. What would be a first practical step for anyone interested these days.

  13. Looks like Armagh are preparing the way not for Emmanuael but for Rory Coyle to return. He may be in a parish near you in the New Year. All I can say is lock up your young Sons.

  14. If the photo of last nights panto performers on stage in Armagh is anything to go by I can well hear the audience shouting the customary warning at the two young servers "Look behind you"
    Armagh Anthony

    1. 23:20
      This is the latest form of humour?
      Protect me, Bishop Buckley from the feeble in mind!

  15. If Rory makes a comeback then Eamon Martin is a total fool. He is protecting active homosexual clergy. Is this man compromised. Total and utter disgrace he is.

  16. Rory is on the brink of a come back. EM is waiting for the right time to slot him first into a desk job then a quiet country parish. Grindr has been seen in and around Armagh.

    1. Has CC nothing more to say on the matter? And what about the Armagh farmer who was trying to ring and complain about the antics of certain young clerics at WYD in Krakow?

    After reading about the carry on in Armagh I cannot keep quiet any longer. I rang bishop martin about my son at world youth day and I was promised a call back but I am still waiting weeks after. The lady who answered treated me like some bog man and speaking down to me. Me and my wife wrote to bishop martin and we did get a reply just saying that the contents of our letter were noted but nothing else happened. I just feel we are being ignored and treated like tramps.

    We spent a heck of a lot of money sending our son to Poland for world youth day because things are tight with farming and we couldn't afford it but he wanted to go with his friend. He came back quiet and not himself, he didn't want to work on the farm which is not him at all. I questioned him and he was embarrassed talking about it but I was even more embarrassed asking him. I'm a simple man who was brought up to be taught what is right and what is wrong.

    My son is nearly 18, ok he spends too much time in the bathroom as he is an attractive youngster and into his gadgets etc but he is a hard grafter. That photo of bishop martin really annoyed me looking like one of the young gang, he is the bishop of Armagh for gods sakes.

    My son has told me that young clergymen from Armagh and other places were cackling and screeching like women, calling each other by girls names and also calling young lads in poland by girls nicknames because they were overheard. They were Talking about what certain lads were wearing, design labels, who had fashion taste and who didn't. Thank god my Son does keep up with dressing well but its bloody expensive.

    A bearded priest asked my son about his sex life which is totally out of order. That tall Armagh younger priest asked him for his mobile number and invited him out for pizza but not to tell his parents about the mobile number. I have since bought him a new phone and changed his number because so many priests were asking him for his mobile number in Poland on world youth day, is this appropriate. He was getting texts asking him out to bars and restaurants and hotels by priests. One Dublin priest offered him vodka and cocaine. its all only coming out now as he is talking about it and there is so much tension and anger in our house and I have fallen out with my wife over it.

    My son had stuff stolen from his room in Poland, t shirts, aftershave and all his underwear but I suppose that could be anybody. I have hit a brick wall with Bishop Martin and Armagh, someone told me to contact you but it seems that nobody really cares what is going on. Why are young priests in Armagh and priests in other places behaving like this and what is being done about it. I am totally disgusted and I am waiting to bump into bishop martin in the street to ask him a few questions because he refuses to see me.