A HIGH-profile priest has lashed out at Cardinal Sean Brady for listening to "malicious complaints intended to discredit" Fr Iggy O'Donovan.
Fr Tony Flannery, a spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, accused the Catholic primate of behaving "very inappropriately" over his role in reporting the Augustinian priest to the Vatican over a baptism deemed invalid on the basis of a complaint by someone who attended the ceremony.
The parents of the child were asked by a local priest in Drogheda to have their son rebaptised following the complaint to Cardinal Brady.
The complainant reported the priest for allowing the godparents and parents pour water over the child's head. This is considered incorrect procedure in the Catholic Church.
Fr Flannery told the Irish Independent the baptism was valid. "The correct words of the sacrament were spoken and water was poured over the child making the baptism perfectly valid," he claimed.
The 66-year-old Redemptorist, who has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican, called on the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland to clarify the grounds on which the original baptism was deemed invalid.
"It was Cardinal Brady's decision to order a local priest to rebaptise the child and that was the key. Once the Vatican heard that the cardinal had decreed that the child be rebaptised, they concluded that the original baptism was invalid," Fr Flannery said.
The Irish Independent sought a response from Cardinal Brady but none was forthcoming.
Under canon law, there is no need to have a second baptism if a person is validly baptised even if unlawfully. This allows for lay people to baptise a dying baby if there is no priest available.
The complainant is believed not to have attended the baptism as a member of the family party but was there to watch Fr Iggy with a view to reporting any irregularities.
The complainant is believed to be a well-known member of the pro-life campaign in the local area and to have taken part in campaigning outside politicians' houses over the abortion legislation.
The complaint about the baptism was made without the knowledge of the parents of the child, who told the 'Sunday Independent' they fully supported Fr O'Donovan.
Fr O'Donovan is now on sabbatical and has moved from Drogheda to Limerick.
Fr Flannery called on Cardinal Brady to get involved in resolving the matter.