WELL known priest and journalist Fr Brian D’Arcy, who has been censured by the Vatican, today broke his silence to reveal his distress over the disciplinary action.
The broadcaster and newspaper columnist, declared: "Personally I've been living with the pain of censure for 14 months and will have to live with it for the rest of my priestly life.
"In these difficult times, it is the price one has to pay when one is committed to the truth, which is the duty of both the priest and the journalist."
The priest, from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster and who writes a religious column for Sunday World newspaper, was censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
Father D'Arcy, 67, a member of the Passionist Order, has criticised mandatory celibacy for priests. He has also been a fierce critic of the church's handling of child abuse scandals in Ireland.
The disciplinary action means he must submit his writings and broadcasts to an official censor.
In a statement today he said: "Personally, I was saddened and disappointed with the contents of the Congregation's letter but have come to accept that this is the CDF's way of dealing with issues.
"In the interests of accuracy, however, I need to emphasise that I remain a priest in good standing and that I have continued to carry out my priestly duties with the same dedication as before.
"In 45 years as a journalist, I have never denied the legitimately Defined Doctrines of the Catholic religion. I respect all faiths. Like all dedicated journalists and broadcasters, I check my facts as thoroughly as is humanly possible and if in doubt, I seek expert advice.
"I have continued to write and broadcast since the news of the Vatican's displeasure was filtered down to me in March 2011. I shall continue my ministry in communication because I believe that the church cherishes freedom of speech as an inviolable principle.
"Pope Benedict made a fervent plea for freedom of expression on his recent visit to Cuba.
"I believe the church needs credible voices in today's world as was stated at the conclusion of the recent report of the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland: 'Finally, the Visitation attested to the great need for the Irish Catholic community to make its voice heard in the media and to establish a proper relationship with those active in this field, for the sake of making known the truth of the Gospel and the church's life.'
"This is why I have given my life to the church, to the priesthood and to taking my place as a professional in the mass media. I will continue doing so with honesty and integrity."
Father D'Arcy is the latest in a number of Irish priests censured by the Vatican. It has caused outrage among liberal Catholics throughout the country as well as many priests.
Father Peter McVerry who has worked closely with drug addicts and young homeless people on the streets of Dublin for over 30 years said the action was not right.
He added: "It is par for the course, but I find it totally and absolutely unacceptable."