Friday 6 March 2015

Gagged priest speaks out over Vatican censor

Greg Harkin

Published 28/04/2012 | 05:00

CENSORED priest Father Brian D'Arcy hit back at the Catholic Church hierarchy yesterday, as he was inundated with messages of support from around the world.

At the St Gabriel's Retreat centre, at the Passionist Monastery in Co Fermanagh where the celebrity priest is based, there has been a huge outpouring of support.

And it's being matched by support from around the globe, his supporters said.

Fr D'Arcy (67) was in Belfast yesterday pre-recording his Sunday music programme for BBC Radio Ulster following confirmation he has been censored by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

In the past he has criticised mandatory celibacy for priests and 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.

Abhorrent

In a strongly worded statement issued yesterday, Fr D'Arcy said he was "saddened and disappointed with the contents of the Congregation's letter but I have come to accept that this is the CDF's way of dealing with issues".

He said he wanted to make it clear "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".

He added: "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."

Meanwhile, there was no shortage of support for the priest at St Gabriel's.

"His (Fr Brian's) email system has almost crashed.

"He has literally had hundreds of emails of support from all over the world," said a member of staff.

"We are taking phone calls from America from people offering their prayers and support. People of all ages and from several different countries have been in touch."

Supporters also called into the monastery.

A pensioner from Cavan said: "God makes our rules, not a committee in Rome."

Last night, the Association of Catholic Priests last night also defended Fr D'Arcy.

Spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh said: "Fr D'Arcy ... has also managed to bring the message of Christ to places nobody else could have managed too and to be treated in this way is absolutely abhorrent."

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Ireland said the issue was "a matter for the Passionists".

Irish Independent

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