|ORDINATION PIC 6TH JUNE 1976|
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:
|ST PETERS YOUTH CLUB EARLY 1980S|
WHY CARDINAL CAHAL DALY SACKED ME
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.
|WITH YOUTH CLUB DISCO COMMITTEE IN KILKEEL|
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”.
|LARNE FAMILY AND FRIENDS|
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.
|ON THE DOLE WITH RUC CHIEF CONSTABLE SIR JOHN HERMON|
Later when Daly asked about me and the Church say “No comment”. Daly once said: “We must deprive Buckley of the oxygen of publicity”
|DALY EXPELLING UGLY DUCKING PAT FROM ROME|
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:
I TRY to live it:
A PERSONAL CREED
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.