Cloyne Report priest challenges his dismissal in Rome
The priest at the centre of the Cloyne Report is pursuing a challenge under canonical law to his dismissal from the clergy.
The priest, referred to in the Cloyne Report as 'Fr Ronat' and 'Fr B', has vowed to clear his name with a full legal challenge to Rome.
The Irish Independent understands that a central element of the challenge will be the church's decision to issue an apology and offer compensation to those who had levelled allegations against him while the disciplinary process was still ongoing.
The cleric's legal team has argued that this stance was taken despite the fact that the cleric was acquitted in two criminal trials. He has consistently protested his innocence.
The dismissal of 'Fr Ronat' from the clerical state was recommended by an Irish canonical court almost two years ago. This was ratified by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of Rome's highest clerical courts, despite an appeal from Fr Ronat.
The elderly cleric lodged a challenge to the ruling under canonical law last April - and detailed submissions on that challenge have now been made.
This represents his last avenue of challenge to the disciplinary process beyond a personal appeal to Pope Francis. A decision from Rome on the challenge is not expected until next year.
The Irish canonical court, which suspended its probe to allow Judge Yvonne Murphy to complete the Cloyne Report into how the Cork diocese handled child-abuse allegations, recommended that the priest be defrocked in March 2013.
He was then given 15 days to indicate an appeal.
The cleric is not permitted to speak about the ongoing church appeal process. However, a relative confirmed that the case is being "fought tooth and nail".
The man stressed that 'Fr Ronat' continues to vehemently deny the allegations and remains deeply upset by his treatment.
The cleric has never been convicted of any criminal offence and his family claim that he has been subjected to a campaign of harassment and intimidation.
He has also threatened legal action against a number of parties in relation to the matter.
The Irish canonical court upheld the allegations against the priest. Its recommendation was for his immediate "dismissal from the clerical state".
However, Fr Ronat's legal team has insisted that his position remains unchanged while the challenge is ongoing.
In the meantime, long-standing restrictions on his ministry remain in place.