Thursday, January 19, 2006


End celibacy rule say priest's supporters

The Catholic Church is losing its best priests because they can’t get married, supporters of a cleric forced to retire after fathering a child today claimed.

Fr Maurice Dillane, a curate in the Woodford-Looscaun parish in east Co Galway quit the Clonfert diocese after he was confronted by his bishop.

The 73-year-old cleric is believed to have had a two-year relationship with a Dublin-based teacher, 31 whom he first met in a previous parish in the Co Galway area. (Some age gap!)

The child was born at the end of last year.

Broadcaster Fr Brian D’Arcy and well-known Manchester priest Fr Denis Maher today both backed Fr Dillane and warned the Catholic Church that it was losing its best priests because they weren’t allowed to marry.

"The compulsory celibacy issue has to be addressed. I’m not saying what the conclusions will be but at least it is time that we discussed it," Fr D’Arcy said.

"I really think that some of the absolute cream of the priesthood have been lost and I think it’s one of the reasons we are in the huge mess we’re in at the moment," he noted.

He estimated that over 110,000 priests have left around the world, of which 70,000 would have been leaders in the Catholic Church today.

Fr Maher, who rose to media prominence in 1998 during the police investigation into the Dr Harold Shipman murders in his Manchester parish, also supported Fr Dillane.

"Any priest who doesn’t fall in love is only half a priest," he said.

The Tipperary-born cleric said he had 14 married priests in his parish who were very successful in their jobs. He also revealed that he once fell in love with a woman but overcame it to continue as a priest.

"We remain the best of friends. It’s a very nice relationship. There’s nothing bad taking place," he told Liveline.

The Bishop of Clonfert, Dr John Kirby earlier confirmed in a statement that a priest had admitted to him on January 6 that he had recently fathered a baby. Fr Dillane’s parish priest Fr Pat Naughten was unavailable for comment today.

I'm inclined to agree with this view. I think it's unfair to expect priests to go through their lives and not acknowledge their sexuality. Priests are human beings after all and I think the current line of thinking from the Catholic Church is damaging to the future of the Church.

What are your thoughts?


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