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Fr Brian leaps to defence of Fr Ray after critics tell him: 'Jesus never went out dancing for women'



Linking up: Fr Ray Kelly on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with pro dancer Kylee Vincent

Linking up: Fr Ray Kelly on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with pro dancer Kylee Vincent

Linking up: Fr Ray Kelly on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with pro dancer Kylee Vincent

Fr Brian D'Arcy has come to the defence of his 'Dancing With The Stars' friend Fr Ray Kelly, saying he doesn't wrap himself in cotton wool.

It comes after Fr Kelly received dozens of abusive messages for taking part in the hit show.

The singing cleric (66) received a slew of cards and letters at his home in Oldcastle, Co Meath.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Fr D'Arcy described Fr Kelly as a "dedicated priest" who works hard for his people.

"His priestly life comes first. He uses all his talents as a good human, bringing joy wherever he goes," he said.

"He's a brave man to put himself out there in 'Dancing With The Stars'. He's in the marketplace, as we priests are supposed to be. He doesn't wrap himself in cotton wool behind presbytery walls.

"He's able to experience the ups and downs of life, the same as his parishioners do.

"Well done, Ray, is what I say," he added.

Fr Kelly spoke out on RTÉ's 'Liveline' yesterday in a bid to remind people to be "kind to each other".

He said he received a number of Christmas cards, one in particular in which a woman told him to "remember what happened to the woman who danced for John the Baptist".

He said some people told him this reference was the equivalent of a death threat.

"I have been a priest for 31 years and I have never experienced the level of criticism that I have received during this programme," he said.

Programme makers Shinawil persuaded him not to pull out of the production after he requested to exit the dancing show.

The Meath-based priest said the team advised him to report the phone call to gardaí, which he did.

He added that gardaí took the person's details but "nothing has come of it".

Fr Kelly said he also received a letter from a woman in which she urged him to give up dancing for Lent, adding: "It would be a wonderful sacrifice, as a witness to the people of Ireland."

Several callers rang 'Liveline' to criticise Fr Kelly for taking part in the TV show.

"He should spend more time visiting his parishioners instead of glorifying himself for the sake of I don't know what," one man said.

"Jesus Christ never went out dancing for women or anything like that and there's no reason why a priest should do it either," said one caller named Kevin.

"I want for him to give it up for the love of God - for Jesus Christ.

"I don't think Fr Ray should be in this programme at all because he's a priest.

"He's doing a godly job for Jesus Christ and shouldn't be out there promoting himself for fun."

Fr Kelly defended himself and assured listeners he was 100pc committed to the priesthood.

"I'm 31 years a priest and I am fully committed and that's number one in my life," he said.

Bishop of Meath Thomas Deenihan had warned Fr Kelly to expect criticism before he took part in the show.

"He told me just to be aware that there will be people out there who will try to knock and criticise me," Fr Kelly said.

"But he said the important thing was if I was going to take part, to just enjoy myself."

Irish Independent