"THE MEMORY OF JESUS IS BOTH SACRED AND SUBVERSIVE"
Sunday, 20 August 2017
Global campaign by priest’s son led to new guidelines for clerics with children
Bishops say principles were drafted in response to Doyle’s request Archbishop Martin agreed to fund support website for priests’ children
The Irish Times
PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent
It was the early 1980s when Vincent Doyle’s parents first met at a wedding in Co Cavan.
Fr John J Doyle (44) was a Co Longford Spiritan (Holy Ghost) priest, home from the US diocese of Camden, New Jersey.
His mother was a married woman with three children.
Fr Doyle (JJ) arranged for his transfer back to Ireland, to the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, and to Longford town near where she lived. The priest would later serve in Ardagh, Co Longford and finally in Edgeworthstown, where he died of lung cancer in June 1995.
By then, his son Vincent was 12. He would be 28 before his mother acknowledged that Fr Doyle was his father. As a boy, he had a very good relationship with the priest, who was also his godfather, he told The Irish Times. “I spent a lot of time with him,” he said.
It was, he feels, probably his father’s influence which later led him to Maynooth where he took a degree in theology, philosophy and English. He then studied for a master’s degree in chaplaincy and pastoral care at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin and spent a year at a seminary in Spain before deciding the priesthood was not for him.
He has since qualified as a psychotherapist and become engaged. He remains a practising Catholic, with desire to hurt the Church.
It was in 2012 he first had the idea of setting up a website for people like himself whose fathers were priests. It arose from a discussion he had with a woman who was a priest’s daughter.
He went to see then papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Browne, who was very supportive and arranged for him to have a front seat at a general audience no in Rome with Pope Francis on June 4th, 2014, the anniversary of his father’s death.
There he passed a letter in Spanish to the pope, later acknowledged. He had sent a similar letter to the Irish Catholic bishops, asking what they proposed to do about children fathered by priests.
Back in Ireland, he went to see Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who, as with Archbishop Brown, he found “very accommodating”.
When he mooted the idea of a website, Archbishop Martin was “very encouraging, really helpful, saying we should do it right”. The archbishop agreed to fund the new website, copinginternational.com.
In 2015, Doyle contacted the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe in the US as “I wanted the story to go international”. They asked him to keep all under wraps while they researched the story more broadly. He agreed to do so. This week the Boston Globe ran a series on children fathered by Catholic priests.
In the interim, Doyle continued contacts with the Irish bishops. They finally agreed the Principles of responsibility regarding priests who father children while in ministry, yet to be published by the bishops in Ireland.
A spokesman for the bishops said yesterday that the text was originally drafted in response to a request from Vincent Doyle.
“The principles, having been approved in draft form by the spring 2017 plenary meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, were sent to Vincent for his review. Having been favourably received by him, the principles were signed off by the standing committee at its meeting on May 29th and were forwarded to Vincent on that date.”
Asked why these principles had not been announced publicly, or published since on the Catholic bishops’ website or any diocesan website, or referred to in the published summaries of the bishops’ 2017 spring or summer meetings, the spokesman said, “it was presumed that Vincent would publish these principles as he saw fit as part of his raising awareness of this issue.”
Bishops create guidelines for priests with children
The Irish Times
PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent
The wellbeing of the child should be the primary consideration for any Catholic priest who becomes a father, guidelines approved by Ireland’s Catholic bishops state.
The guidelines say the priest “should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities.”
In arriving at any decision concerning his child, it is “vital” that the mother, “as the primary caregiver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved”, the document states. It was also “important that a mother and child should not be left isolated or excluded”.
The guidelines, Principles of Responsibility Regarding Priests who Father Children While in Ministry, were approved by the bishops last May, but have yet to be published on their website or any Catholic diocesan website in Ireland.
They were prepared following discussions with Galway-based psychotherapist Vincent Doyle (34), whose father, Co Longford priest Fr JJ Doyle, died of lung cancer in 1995.
Mr Doyle contacted the Boston Globe and, this week, the American newspaper ran a series on children fathered by priests. Mr Doyle has also set up the website www.coping international.com to help people, such as himself, whose fathers were priests. The website has been funded by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
The guidelines state: “In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial.”
They continue: “At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities. His relevant church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities.”
The Irish Episcopal Conference
Upon ordination priests promise to live a life of celibacy in their dedication to Christ and to pastoral ministry in the Church. However if, contrary to this obligation, a priest fathers a child, the wellbeing of his child should be his first consideration.
The following principles of responsibility attempt to articulate a position based on natural justice and subsequent rights regarding the children of priests. This does not replace the responsibility of arriving at practical decisions which pertains to those children with the common good (whether in the family, Church, or State)
The birth of a child to a couple brings into being a unique person with a mother and a father. The parents have a fundamental right to make their own decisions regarding the care of their new-born child.
In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities - legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities.
His relevant Church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities
Each situation requires careful consideration (*) but certain principles present themselves on which the decision of the priest should be made
The best interests of the child
Dialogue with, and respect for, the mother of the child
Dialogue with Church superiors
Taking into account civil and canon law (**)
It is vital in discerning a way forward that the mother, as the primary care giver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved in the decision.
In arriving at a determination regarding these cases, it is important that a mother and child should not be let isolated or excluded.
*In particular, cultural contexts can have an important bearing. However, the moral agency of the mother will remain important to the cultural contexts
**Such laws or norms may include rights of custody and maintenance (civil law) or the process of laicization (canon law) Approved May 2017
900 years of celibacy… and children
The Catholic church has forbidden priests to marry and have families since 1139, but that hasn't stopped them from having children.
Following along tradition, celibacy requirement for priests is affirmed at a meeting of the Second Lateran Council
Pope Alexander VI is elected by the College of Cardinals after fathering four children as a priest
The celibacy requirement is affirmed again at the Council of Trent
Pope John XXIII convenes Vatican II, raising hopes that the Church will relax the celibacy requirement
Pope Paul VI issues Papal Encyclical re-affirming the celibacy requirement
Bishop Eamonn Casey of Ireland resigns following revelations that he fathered a son
The Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico is forced to resign as leader of the Legionaires of Christ following accusations he sexually abused seminarians and fathered several children by at least two women
Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles resigns after revealing he is the father of two children
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, later Pope Francis, says priests who father children should resign to support their offspring
After 1500 + years of treating the children of priests and their mothers like dirt on their shoes the Catholic Hierarchy are beginning to move on the question of priest's children.
This movement is to the credit of people like Vincent Doyle and others around the world who have campaigned on this issue.
It is also a credit to the modern media - like the BOSTON GLOBE - who is capable of holding the Catholic Hierarchy to account in ways not possible before.
I have had pastoral experience of helping the women who were pregnant by priests deal with the Hierarchy - and my experience is NOT GOOD!
BISHOP LAURENCE RYAN - KILDARE AND LEIGHLIN:
Ryan was Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin from 1987 to 2002.
During that time I brought a woman to him who had a baby for one of his priest - a priest he had simply moved from Newbridge Parish to Portlaois Parish.
The woman and I drove in the driving rain on a winter's day to meet Ryan. He sat 15 feet away from us, said nothing, did nothing and never even offered us a cup of tea as the woman wept bitterly in his presence.
BISHOP NOEL TREANOR - DOWN AND CONNOR:
In very recent years I referred a woman to Treanor who had been made pregnant by her parish priest - Father Ciaran Dallat.
Treanor would not allow me to accompany the woman to the interview with him.
The woman found him cold and aloof.
Ciaran Dallat had not only made her pregnant but had gone out to dinner with friends KNOWING that the woman was miscarrying the child in her bathroom.
He called in at midnight on his way home to his presbytery.
Since then Treanor has appointed Dallat as chaplain to Maghaberry Prison.
Has Dallat had other women? Other children?
Only God and Treanor know.
THE CASE OF EAMON CASEY:
We know how Bishop Eamon Casey treated Annie Murphy and their son Peter.
Then attempted adoption.
Then a bribe of £70,000. Then running away to South America. Don't be fooled by these "GUIDELINES". The first thing a bishop will do when a priest fathers a child will be to call in his lawyers to protect Church money from the woman and child. If a priest father's a child while representing the Church the Church should be financially liable to the woman and child. But wait and see. Any such help for such a woman or child will be covered by a "gagging" clause and a "no further liability" clause. These guys could teach Putin how to suck eggs!