Sunday 22 January 2017

Controversial cleric a 'grade A1 idiot', says colleague

Ciaran Byrne

Published 20/03/2010 | 05:00

HIS views on shielding clerical sex abusers led to him being silenced by his bishop and branded a "grade A1 idiot" by a senior priest yesterday.

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But when controversial Monsignor Maurice Dooley declared in 2002 that bishops did not have to tell the gardai about paedophile clerics, nobody in the Catholic Church said anything.

He is the same priest who in 2001 branded Celia Larkin as Bertie Ahern's "concubine" and said priests could ignore state law to marry 14-year-old girls, according to church laws.

His boss Archbishop Dermot Clifford silenced the cleric on Thursday but none of the hierarchy intervened when Dooley made even more outrageous comments eight years ago.

Speaking then about paedophile priests, the canon law expert said it was not up to the church to give files on child abuse to the gardai.

He said bishops were entitled to ignore criminal law and to conceal a paedophile cleric's actions from the authorities -- even if it meant going to prison.

Mgr Dooley said bishops were not required to report past cases of sexual abuse and might even shelter the priest. "As far as the church is concerned, its laws comes first," he said.

The priest provoked fury earlier this week after he said he would not tell gardai if a paedophile priest confessed to him.

Yesterday Fr Michael Canny, speaking on RTE radio's 'Today with Pat Kenny', said: "I do not know the monsignor, but he is a grade A1 idiot."

Fr Canny, a spokesman for the Derry diocese, which made a confidential payment to an abused teenage girl, added: "If (Mgr Dooley) has any experience of the horrendous consequences and the effect that (sexual abuse) has on people then he would not be coming from this standpoint."

Mgr Dooley's views were clearly no different in 2002 when he said: "A bishop swears allegiance to canon law. If there was a real conflict, he would simply have to maintain canon law, even if there was a chance of going to jail."

A bishop's relationship with a priest was similar to that of a parent and child, Fr Dooley said. "As a parent, you are entitled to protect your child or even to conceal him from punishment.

"A bishop's first obligation is to make sure that the abuse does not continue. Past offences and the danger of future offences are two different things.

"He does not have an obligation to see to it that his erring priest is punished in civil law. He is a kind of father figure towards his priest."

The priest retired last year, aged 75, from the north Tipperary parish of Loughmore-Castleliney. From Thurles, he was ordained in 1959.

He also served on a number of leading Vatican committees and as a representative to the Holy See from 1982 to 2005. He was professor of canon law at St Patrick's College, Thurles.

In 1999 he said that, since the church allowed girls to marry at 14 and boys at 16, priests could officiate at such marriages with " tranquil consciences", even if they were breaking state laws.

In 2001 he caused offence to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and his then partner Celia Larkin by branding her a concubine.

Irish Independent

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