Thursday, 9 February 2017



In recent weeks Blog readers have asked me to write about how I came to be "sacked" from the RC institution 30 years ago. Many readers are younger and forget the details. So here goes:



Daly became the Bishop of Down and Connor (Belfast) in late 1982. I had been in St. Peter’s Cathedral Belfast as curate since August 1978.

When Daly took over Belfast he asked all the priests in the Diocese to write a report for him about the state of things in the Diocese. Over a 4 week period I prayed about this and eventually posted Daly a very honest and comprehensive report on the 7th November 1982. In his report I made the following comments and suggestions:

1.     That Daly should abandon his luxurious palace in Belfast’s stockbroker belt and come and live at his cathedral among the poor as would Christ.

2.     That Daly should renovate the Diocese’s churches in line with Vatican 11

3.     That rules about marriages etc be implemented on a Diocesan level so that people would not be encountering difficult priests abusing their power.

4.     That the laity should be more involved in every aspect of Church life.

5.     That priests should be appointed on merit and not by age seniority.

6.     That Daly and the Church should do more to reach out to the alienated.



About this time the Parish Priest of the Cathedral Father Vincent McKinley was bullying both the priests in the Cathedral Presbytery and the people of the parish. I reported this to Daly.

As a result Father McKinley jumped on me one night in the presbytery dining room and physically beat and kicked me repeatedly !

I reported this to Bishop Daly who replied: “Father McKinley is a saint and you have a persecution complex”.  I later regretted not calling in the police. But it was the early 80's and the RUC was not popular in the Catholic community.

I was banned by Mc Kinley and Fr Joe Mc Gurnaghan from eating in the cathedral priest’s dining room and had to eat in the kitchen with the lady housekeeper. At night when McKinley and Mc Gurnaghan would get drunk they would kick my bedroom door and sing pornographic rugby songs about “wanking” and “fucking” !!! They was determined to break my spirit. I survived with the help of friends and the occasional valium 5. 

When I later organised a big clean up of the infamous Divis Flats complex which surrounded the presbytery McKinley and Mc Gurnaghan stood at the presbytery window  giving me and the parishioners the 2 finger “f*** off” sign.

Daly and the clergy became furious with me. In February 1983 Daly banished me to the furthest parish in the Diocese – Attical – on the top of the Mountains of Mourne. Fortunately for me the people of Kilkeel embraced me and I had the most wonderful relationship with the people of Kilkeel for the 15 months Daly left him at peace there.


Then Daly struck again. In August of 1984, without warning or cause he once again banished me to the 83% Protestant / Loyalist town of Larne in Co. Antrim. When sending me to Larne Daly said to me: “When you go to Larne I want you to fade into the woodwork. When I look out on the ocean of priests I do not want to see your head above the waves”.


When I was in Larne for just a year Daly sent for ne again and said he was going to banish him totally from the Diocese. He offered me a parish in California and £10,000 to go there. I refused. Daly later offered me £1,000 for the key of the Church house in Larne. I refused to leave and to this day lives in the house where I now live by the agreement of the diocese in a High Court agreement. Daly denied the offer of £1,000 which I had returned to him. But I had kept a photocopy of the cheque which I made public. In reply Daly said it was a charitable donation.


Since 1986 I have maintained an independent ministry from Larne. In 1998, just before it was announced that I had been  consecrated a bishop,  I was approached by an emissary from the Church authorities and offered £250,000 if I went away and was silent for 5 years and that on his return he would be offered an important Church position. I turned down the attempted offer especially as they would not put it in writing.


Later when Daly asked about me and the Church say “No comment”. Daly once said: “We must deprive Buckley of the oxygen of publicity”


I never set out to be at variance with the hierarchy. I was pushed into it. I had to decide if I would be a part of the Clerical Club or a pastor to the people.

When Daly sacked me he gave me three reasons and two reasons only:

1. My criticisms of the Church Hierarchy.

2. My outspokenness in the media.

3. My liberal views and over involvement in pastoral / social work.

Today - in my 65th year I still retain my faith in God and my desire to serve people as a priest.

I think that rules are important (but not divine) but that people are more important.

A few years ago I wrote this Personal Creed:

I TRY to live it:


Bishop Pat Buckley

I believe that in this world it is impossible to understand God.
I believe that God made this wonderful universe and all that exists.
I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment.
I believe that God made all men and women,
That He made them all equal,
And that He loves and cherishes them all equally.
I believe that the whole human race is the family of God.
I believe that there may be intelligent life on other planets
And if so, they too are part of God’s family.
I hold that religion and faith are two different things,
That religion can be both good and bad
And that it is spirituality that counts.
For me your religion is an accident of your birth
Or a gift of God’s great providential diversity.
There is no one true church.
All churches and all religions contain aspects of the truth.
But only God is truth.
No man is infallible.
A Buddhist or a good atheist is as acceptable to God as a good Catholic.
I believe that sex is good and so is the body.
The only sexual act that is sinful is the one that uses or abuses.
I believe in people, especially suffering people.
I believe in the power of weakness.
I believe that all men and women will be saved.
I believe in a packed Heaven and an empty Hell.
And even Satan might get another chance.
I believe in the freedom of God’s sons and daughters.
I believe that dogma is often evil.
I believe that life is a journey towards God
And that no one has the right to insist that you go a certain road.
I believe that God and reality are too big for my poor words.
I believe therefore that I am only at a beginning.
Only knocking at a door.
And I believe that the best is yet to come.




  1. Well done, good and faithful servant. You would not accept the bribes they offered you, not in my name, but in obedience to the one they truly served. You would not play Judas to their sanhedrin.

    Bishop Pat, in less biblical tones, they must have been scared witless of you to have offered you all that money to, as it were, disappear. Why were they so afraid of you, one man against the might and corruption of the institutional Church? Or perhaps it was the One in you, whose voice called them out for their moral neglect, that made them cower and tremble.

    When you speak out in reprimand of those who are neglecting their flocks, (neglecting the work of the Lord), then know that you will be castigated by them. Cain will always try to destroy Abel. The Old Testament bristles with stories of prophets who were persecuted or murdered for their righteousness.

    That you have persevered this long in ministry, throughout so much adverse weather, is testament not to your own strength, but to the Lord's. And isn't this a sign of his imprimatur on your ministry?

    1. Thank you MC. I am keenly aware of my human weakness and that any good that is in me or that I do the credit is due to God who often uses the "weak, the foolish and the comtemtible".

  2. Your Ordination photo is beautiful, Pat---happy, contented, a smile playing around the lips, a milestone achieved and ready to take on the role for which you had worked so diligently. We've all thought at times that it might be good to be able to foresee the future but I sometimes think that not being able to do so is surely one of life's greatest mercies! So here you were in 1976, full of hope and idealism, and unaware of the particular twists and turns of the road down which fate had destined you to travel and of the unexpected challenges that lay in your path. The 1970s were difficult and uncertain years for all of us and to some extent we lived from day to day in a state of continual tension and with brutality and raw emotions ever present reminders of the chaos that passed as normality. Very few of us, whatever profession we were in, remained completely unscathed. How could we! You cannot put an old head on young shoulders and it's so easy to be wise after the event! But that's good -because if it weren't so, well then life would have taught us nothing. There is a comfort in maturity. We can look back at events(--and at our younger selves) from a safe distance and with a deeper understanding of what motivated people to act and react as they saw fit at the time and in the circumstances in which they found themselves. You have to live life first though. You can look back and marvel at the courage you showed and if at times it spilled over into audacity, you will know the reasons for it, the stresses and provocations you were facing. You remember with gratitude all the good and kindly folk who crossed your path or shared your journey for a time. They won't forget the way you touched their lives either and your constant efforts to make their journey a little more bearable especially when tragedy knocked on their door. We are truly the sum total of our experiences and more. Please continue to be kind and empathetic and find enjoyment and satisfaction in inspiring others to do the same and make sure that smile is still dancing on your lips!
    May God reward you as He surely will. Cecily.

    1. Thank you Cecily. When I was on the Falls Road in the late 70s someone said to me "Buckley I admire your courage and look forward to the day you get the wisdom to go with it".

      That is happening now :-)

  3. I really enjoyed reading your memoir there Pat! So many thoughts came to mind while reading and i'll try and summarise a few. Firstly huge respect and admiration that as Jesus was tempted with worldly security, so you followed him by rejecting the Churches attempts to pay you off. Reading how those two priests would get drunk before bullying you I thought of the character Fr, Jack from Fr. Ted and of the similarities that messrs Linehan & Mathews must have known, as well as yer man from Enniskillen!(Terry Wogan and he would joke he, Brian D'arcy, was the inspiration for Ted.) (Only your situation NOT funny,at all!) I've just checked google as I was about to confuse the bloody sunday bsp Daly with your fella. Releived to find they are different people and I can go on respecting the saintly brave man who waved the hanky! I think it is cahal who has / had the persecution complex, or more simply, jealousy! You were and are loved Pat, and your practice and life are authorative, people see that in their hearts and minds and their souls respond, hearing the voice of the Lord. Finally, I love your creed! It resonates wit the interspirituality and "New Monasticsm" movement. I'm sure the foundation for new monasticsm would love to hear from you as a respected elder who has "Walked the Walk" and that others would be aedified, inspired and formed by your example and wisdom.

    Ad Multos Annos! x

    1. Thank you Tom. I know his you have suffered along the way. We are fellow travellers.

    2. Tom I never knew Brian D Arcy was the inspiration for Fr Ted. Which one is he Ted or Dougal? Certainly Pat as a Bishop is more than just a dressed up candlestick. My recent study and reflection on Priesthood has reminded me that Priesthood is more than just smoke and mirrors. In the simplicity of the call lies it's true wonder.

    3. In the book Gnosticism Its History and Influence - Benjamin Walker describes gnostic thought that Christ and Lucifer will be reconciled, indeed he asserts that early Christian theologian Origen said "He will be redeemed!" page 125.

    4. Wasn't Brian D'Arcy the inspiration for Fr Trendy?

    5. Hi sean, It was joked (true or not) that Brian was the inspiration for the main character, Ted.

    6. Ted and Brian I see quite possible yes. Thanks Tom

    7. I was working much too hard during your difficult years , Pat, it's only in the past year that I've got to know you through this blog.
      Perhaps this summer I may make a trip to Larne.
      As I've said b4 I not happy that you never got to know the real Brian Darcy, for me he is an inspiration and a lover of the common people, despite his love and knowledge of some celebs.
      Who cares about that, they need their souls saving too.
      I go out of my way to attend as many masses of his as possible, and because of him I'm still a practicing Catholic.
      I hope that some day you will find the humility to recognise his great faith in God And his belief in us his sheep.
      I'm glad to note that you didn't decend into ridicule of him on this particular blog.
      Loving all your blogs...mostly....keeping us all informed

    8. You would be very very welcome here.

      I did take on board what you said about Brian Darcy and will try and think about it.

      When he and I have been in the same place he has avoided me?

      Do come and visit :-)

  4. Hi Pat Thank You for the Story and as said above Ad Multos Annos. "The Boyos" kicking and swearing at your door reminds me of Animal Farm. Having "withdrawn from normal society" these guys set up their own tribal structure in order to keep "safe" Younger immaturity clerical types long for security but will not find in the culture of the paint and powder of an alleged Maynooth type lifestyle. Perhaps the church is like a painting covered over with layers of muck and misery. Only the Expert Restorer can bring it back to true brilliance

    1. Yes indeed. In this case the only hope is the cleansing hand of God who will have to knock it down and start all over again. Fortunately the hierarchy and clergy are unknowingly part of the demolition team.

  5. One sided as usual. But then again it is your blog for your imagination.

    1. I can hardly write from your perspective or imagination?

  6. I wonder Pat, looking back over your life, would you have done anything differently? The way in which the diocese and various church authorities treated you was shameful and lacking in imagination. You are a talented and gifted man and your unique talents and gifts could have done great good had the various bishops of the dioceses in which you served had a little imagination in how to channel these gifts and talents. I am thinking of the late Bishop Philbin who saw in you something of the good that could be done in placing you in Divis. Your problems came in the clash of personality with his successor. Dare I say that you were two proud men, very similar to one another, and not willing to concede? It is said that those we dislike the most in life are those who remind us most of what we like least about ourselves. Those we love and admire the most are those who remind us of what we would like to be, but are not. In many senses I think you and Daly were birds of a feather. The tragedy for you Pat was that he was the bishop and he had more power at his disposal to hurt you by casting you out and by making a decision that in effected ended your priesthood in the Catholic Church and shaped your life for better or ill...only you can decide. The whole thing is a tragedy. As I say, in those wee small hours when we are caught without people or drink, do you ever think or reflect, if only I had my time over again would I do anything differently?

    1. Bishop Philbin was actually always very kind to me and had me sit beside him at dinners and always said to me: "Dear Father Buckley, keep the young out of the grip of the IRA".

      I was in Divis during Philbin's time from 1978 until late 1982 and he never once reprimanded me during those 4 years - quite the opposite.

      Within months of coming to Belfast Daly had moved me out.

      Would I have done things differently?

      I think I might have tried to temper my courage with a bit more diplomacy?

      But the Clerical Club was so strong and sy utterly controlling.

      Certainly Cahal Daly's actions shaped my whole life from the age of 31.

      Maybe God wanted me on the margins helping the marginalised?

      I am sure I am guilty of degrees of pride. stubbornness etc.

      But then as someone said to me:

      "If we like someone we compliment them for being uncompromising. If we do not like them we criticise them for their stubbornness".

      For better or ill? I think God will have to decide that.

      I am only grateful that I still have my faith and my priestly vocation in tact.

  7. Cackle Daly was a conceited, pompous, self-important, dictatorial, fussy little bollocks. I would hazard a guess too that he had an exceptionally small penis - possibly indeed a micropenis.

    I wonder how he would have coped, Pat, if you'd said to him - "listen here Cackle me boyo, I'm staying put. I'm going nowhere. I've done nothing wrong, except ruffle your peacock feathers. Deal with it, you arrogant little pr**k".

    I guess we'll never know. I'd say wee granny Daly's purgatory though is proving quite interesting and engaging for him.

    1. Well I have stayed put. I'm still in the house he wanted me out of.

  8. I remember observing Daly after a priest's funeral one time in Co Down and a very old priest in his late 80's was trying to ask him something.

    Daly was rude, dismissive, impatient and brusque with the old man.

    I remember thinking to myself about Daly, "see you bud, you need a good kick up the hole". I wish I had said it to him.

  9. I used to see Daly parading out of the Maynooth front gates during the episcopal conference meetings, wearing his greca, the only bishop outside of Rome I've seen so attired. He always had bright, glinting and shrewd eyes. Cold as ice and always looked ancient.

  10. Daly brought my vocation to an abrupt end, he spoke down to me as if I were a child. I never met such an abrupt, rude, nasty and ignorant man such as him. I wonder how many other lives he destroyed?

  11. An interesting read Pat, seems very sincere and truthful. By all accounts he seemed to be a wee man with considerable amount of baggage attached.
    May God be good and forgiving to him.

  12. +Pat, I applaud you for building your fruitful ministry despite Daly.

    It is amazing how men such as Daly have a capacity to destroy the Church, but you have taken their badness and made it holiness.

    God bless you,