BROADCASTER and columnist Fr Brian D'Arcy has said his censure by the Vatican "destroyed" him "as a human being and as a priest" and almost caused him to leave the priesthood.
In his new book, 'Brian D'Arcy's Food for the Soul', the 68-year-old said it has been "the most devastating faith crisis of my life".
Recalling the events that led to his rap on the knuckles from the Vatican, Fr D'Arcy said that in 2010 he was formally censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
The then head of the CDF wrote to the Superior General of his religious order, the Passionists, accusing him of being "a source of great scandal".
Fr D'Arcy received a formal warning that he must cease being critical of the Vatican and stop questioning its rules on celibacy, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage or face excommunication.
He makes no apology for criticising the church leadership over the child sex-abuse scandals, saying: "I was absolutely correct to do so. I am a survivor of clerical sex abuse myself.
Father D'Arcy told the Irish Independent that he would quit the church if he is censured by the Congregation of the Faith over his new book.
"That would be it," he said.
"The fact is, there is nothing in it that Pope Francis hasn't said. I don't believe there would be any grounds for censuring me again or any attempt to shut me up.
"Pope Francis knows there is too much power and wealth in the Vatican; he's said all his life what I have said all of mine."
Last February, when the Fermanagh-based cleric was at his "lowest ebb physically and spiritually, something "quite literally unbelievable happened" with Benedict XVI resigning.
Now, Pope Francis is proposing changes remarkably similar to those put forward by Fr D'Arcy, he writes.
The book is available next month from Columba Press.