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Thursday 17 October 2019

Anglican Dean quit Catholic Church 'over celibacy rules'

Dean Dermot Dunne kisses his wife Celia outside Christ Church cathedral yesterday
Dean Dermot Dunne kisses his wife Celia outside Christ Church cathedral yesterday

John Cooney

A priest has told how compulsory celibacy was part of his personal journey away from the Catholic "church of his youth" towards the Anglican ministry.

The Very Reverend Dermot Dunne also spoke of his concerns over the Catholic Church's teaching against birth control, on not allowing divorce to couples in broken marriages, as well as its refusal to admit women to the priesthood.

He was speaking in Dublin yesterday at the announcement of his appointment as Dean of the Church of Ireland's Christ Church cathedral.

Currently the Church of Ireland Archdeacon in the diocese of Ferns, Dean-elect Dunne becomes Christ Church's first Dean since the 16th Century Reformation to have received his theological education in a Catholic seminary, St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

Dean Dunne spoke of how he found that the premise of his faith and his theological understanding were moving him outside the Catholic Church.

"It came to a point in my life where I felt I needed to be honest," he said. "To follow that theological understanding and pursue the journey the way it was going, I needed to leave the church of my youth.

"I could see that the Church was going one way and I another. My thinking was different on areas of human sexuality, on marriage, the place of women in the Church and the question of vocation of women and the admission of women to the ordained ministry."

Dean Dunne revealed that he had a healthy discussion with his then bishop, Dr John Magee, the former papal secretary.

"The difference of opinion we had was over whether there is an intrinsic connection between the vocation to celibacy and the vocation to the ordained ministry," he said.

"The official (Catholic Church) view is that there is an intrinsic link. I would hold that there isn't. So that is why I moved outside. My view of celibacy is that it is a sacred vocation which people are called to, not only in the ordained ministry, but in ordinary life."

Dunne said he still had a great love for the church of his youth and remained in contact with friends from Maynooth and the diocese of Cloyne. His move into Anglicanism was a celebration of life and movement in the Christian faith.

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