FATHER JAMES DONAGHY
FATHER JAMES DONAGHY - the former parish priest of Bangor in Northern Ireland featured in yesterday's edition of the Sunday Life newspaper.
James Donaghy committed a number of very serious crimes of sexual abuse of a number of young boys and men - and of course in the eyes of God these were also serious sins. Those young men will probably never fully recover from what happened to them and it is they who deserve our first and strongest compassion and sympathy.
HOWEVER we must also remember that James Donaghy has been arrested, charged, convicted and served the sentence the courts felt appropriate.
He will remain on the Sex Offenders Register for life and he will never again be allowed to work with young people or vulnerable adults.
He has also been dismissed from the priesthood by the pope and is now in hiding behind the blinds of his house in Lisburn, Co. Antrim.
There are other people in Lisburn who apparently have him in their sights and some of those people are dangerous.
HOW SHOULD RATIONAL PEOPLE / CHRISTIANS FEEL ABOUT JAMES DONAGHY?
The answer to this question depends on another question - "Is James Donaghy truly sorry for what he did and is he a changed man"?
The pre prison James Donaghy was a nasty, aggressive and arrogant man. He felt he was untouchable. He treated most people really badly.
But maybe 5 years in a prison cell has changed him? Prison does change some people. Some people experience internal conversion during their imprisonment.
If this has happened to James Donaghy it is a good thing and it means there is hope for him.
If he has not had that inner conversion there is no hope.
But if he has changed then he should get a chance of putting a life back together.
But I think he will find that very hard to do in Northern Ireland. N. Ireland is a small place.
If I was him I would move to a big city in the UK. I would immediately go and register with the police and authorities in that new place. I would get somewhere to live well away from families, schools etc.
I would get a job.
And I would try and make the last 20 or 30 years of my life what the first decades were not.
As rational human beings - not to mention Christians - we should be prepared to give a changed James Donaghy that chance.
There is no sin that God cannot forgive - neither murder, nor abuse, nor theft etc, etc.
With his own determination, the support of experts, the grace of God James Donaghy can have a future.