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

Vincent Doyle overlooks above the River Shannon in Athlone where he used to walk with Fr John J. Doyle who Vincent did not know was his father.

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.

(FOR FUTURE PROJECT. DO NOT PUBLISH.) Handout family photo from Vincent Doyle. A photo of Vincent, left, on June 4, 2014, meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican---he met His Holiness on the anniversary of his father's death.

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,
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.
Signed off
“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.”

Image result for father jj doyle

Bishops create guidelines for priests with children

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 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)

(FOR FUTURE PROJECT. DO NOT PUBLISH.) Ireland, 11/2016, A family hand out photo of Reverend John J. Doyle, the priest who was the father of Vincent Doyle, who created the website Coping International to help connect the children of priests all over the world. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff) The Rev. John J. Doyle (cq)with his son, Vincent Doyle (cq).
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!


Image result for bishop laurence ryan

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.


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.


Image result for bishop eamon casey annie murphy and peter

We know how Bishop Eamon Casey treated Annie Murphy and their son Peter.

First denial.

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!


  1. Would the then bishop of Longford, bishop Mc namee, have known about his priest ?
    Did he do anything about the affair
    Or did he move the priest ?

    1. So the Bishop called in his lawyers to protect the Church's money? I should jolly well hope so. We didn't hand it over, Sunday after Sunday to have it squandered!

  2. Why would the CHURCH be financially responsible for the man's paternal liabilities? That does not make sense. If the man was say, a doctor, would the NHS be responsible for the financial upkeep of his "mistakes"? If he had been working in Tescos, would the store be expected to finance his illegitimate offspring? No, the Church is not responsible. He is responsible and he should be providing for his child with his own money. Let's have no woolly thinking here. If we pay into our Sunday collection, we shouldn't be paying for anyone's secret handouts.

    1. But we're talking about freaky he-virgins, not normal men. The Catholic church is responsible for their stupidity.

  3. First of all you criticise a "bribe" of £70,000 paid to Annie Murphy and her son.
    Then what's next? You say the "Church should be financially liable"
    Make your mind up...

    1. Casey stole the money from Galway diocese to buy their silence!

  4. No- the Bishop couldn't have known. Patsy Mc Garry's article is clear. The priest was a Spiritan and sometime after the birth transferred to his home diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois. Bishop Colm O Reilly was Bishop 1983-2013 (Bishop McNamee died in 1966)

  5. A priest father should be responsible as any dad is in civil law. If the church covered up they should share responsibility. Bottom line scrap obligatory celibacy. Sex does not diminish holiness

    1. Sean agrees with me(I posted 1.38) that the priest should be as responsible as any other man with regards to paternity.
      But I was thinking - - if compulsory celibacy was abolished tomorrow, wouldn't that result in more paternal handouts, not less? It is a widely held belief that one of the principal reasons for the celibacy rule in the first place was so that Church money,land, housing or other resources wouldn't be "inherited" and would stay in Church ownership.

    2. 11.43 You are spot on the ball. If some priests wanted to be boyos the probably still would as some married or single men may choose to be. Scrapping compulsory Celibacy would make it easier for those who want to follow the straight and narrow. However the church would need to look at the whole Theology of the moveability of priests if there is one. What is the logic behind the secrecy of appointments and the fact that many priests are treated like chess pieces.

  6. Can't understand why Martin is getting involved here
    He should be cleaning Maynooth.
    If a priest has a child, he looks after her/ him with his own money....many live on less.
    So Doylys mother was promiscuous,she already had a she is thebigger culprit here

  7. Yes Francis is tight.a priest can resign if his salary isn't enough to support his child
    He could rejoin when his child is 18.
    Knowing a lot of teenagers , many think they don't need parental input from 13.

    1. "... many think they don't need parental input from 13"!!
      I don't think so!
      Try telling that to mine...!

  8. Any word of views on feminist theology, Pat.

    You did promise us you would write something to clarify your position......

    1. Why is theology sexist ?
      Theology is for everyone

    2. @11.10 I wouldn't hold your breath. Pat is all talk about engaging in theology but all he wants to do is give out about Roman Catholic priests.

      Watch this space.

    3. @11.10 Pat did promise he would cover feminist theology.

      All this talk about being open????

      All talk but no action.

    4. I will cover it in the next day or so :-)

    5. 11:22, yes, theology is for everyone, but it is not FOR everyone. And that's its intellectual Achilles heel.

  9. Catholic priests having sex with adults. Will wonders never cease! I expect the majority of Catholics are relieved to learn of these startling developments.

  10. TBH I still wondering why Martin wd want to pay for the website.
    Is it Rc guilt at times gone by ????
    Surely no one is responsible for any child ONLY the parents
    Why involve bishops, are these priests so immature that they can make a decision for themselves.
    I expect the answer is....they enjoyed the sex but don't understand that there are consequences that require their input.

    1. And they don't want to give up the dayjob.....loads of money for doing sweet fanny all.

    2. 11.47..... well mine are gran/teens and they seem to know it all
      Except for the money end, it is supposed to just flow towards them.
      Of course there are many exceptions--- some are very conscientious and study really hard.
      They all are loved to bits, all 10 teens.

    3. You sound as if you are a lovely grandparent! Value your own input into their lives. I am certain your grandchildren do even if they like to seem "cool" and grownup. When they look back in life, they'll appreciate you even more with the benefit of maturity and hindsight. You are probably listened to more than you realise.

    4. 14:51
      I know of three priests who could have qualified as doctors and I am sure that there are dozens more who would have done very well in highly paid professions.
      The average priest is paid chicken-feed. Those on diocesan pensions are close to poverty.

    5. Our priest is lovely. A man of great integrity, highly intelligent and very caring.

  11. Yes, I agree.
    Sometimes I am genuinely very surprised at the immaturity of attitude that is obvious at times in really nice priests right into their 60s and 70s.
    I suppose it might be understandable if they were monks in a fairly enclosed monastic environment but I am not talking about that.
    Years ago, I know I often taught 6th Formers who had a far more realistic attitude to problems and in general much more cop on as to how the world operates than some of the older clerical Staff who were their teachers. Some of the teenagers had a far more mature attitude and were much more at ease with the girls in their classroom than the "grownup" priests who veered in their awkwardness from practically ignoring the female students altogether to bantering with them in the way that kids do with each other in 1st Form. It was often painful to watch. So it doesn't surprise me if there an inability to deal with aspects of life outside their Seminary experience etc.

  12. Don't you lot know that Pat is in conference this weekend with women of the cloth
    And he had to send them off to view the sights...giants causeway etc

  13. It wouldn't have been too bad only this blonde dressed up in robes just like men love doing

    1. As a priest for over fifty years I have never been happy wearing vestments.
      I cannot imagine Jesus wearing anything other than his ordinary clothes at the last supper.
      I could tolerate a stole ... a symbol that something different, spiritual and special is taking place at Mass.
      As for mitres, croziers etc. I believe that they should be abolished.
      At my age and in my condition, going up altar steps can be quite perilous.

    2. Sorry 17.12

      You might need to translate that??

  14. I'm disappointed there has been no mention of Barcelona on your blog, Pat.

    I heard Pope Francis sent a message to the families and friends of the deceased. It was read at a lovely Mass in Spain.

    Instead Pat, you gave us nothing about this tragedy.


    1. I agree that sadly Barcelona IS today's big news and should have had a mention. Today is a day of exceptional trauma for some people..


    pat, please post this link and create a discussion on this very disturbing situation. It might refocus people on Christian unity rather than discussing matters less important