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Thursday 22 February 2018

Former Catholic priest barred by Bishop from performing any religious duties found secretly saying Mass in his house

Former priest Fr Dan Duane
Former priest Fr Dan Duane

Mark O’Regan

A former Catholic priest who was barred by his Bishop from performing any religious duties was found to be secretly saying Mass in his own home.

The Vatican had rejected an appeal by Dan Duane, attached to the diocese of Cloyne, against dismissal from the priesthood over child sexual abuse.

He was defrocked in 2013, following a Canonical trial for abusing teenagers and minors, but he appealed the decision to Rome.

Mr Duane was previously acquitted of indecent assault at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on two occasions in 2011.

A statement from Bishop William Crean said he also wished to confirm that Bill Meagher, the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) for the diocese, has resigned his position.

A Designated Liason Person is among those who ensure standard reporting procedures are followed, in suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, and that where necessary cases are referred promptly to the authorities.

“I regret Mr Meagher’s decision to resign, because he has served the diocese and the survivors of abuse with great dedication and attention to detail, for which the diocese is most grateful,” said Bishop Crean in his statement.

“The circumstances which led to Mr Meagher’s resignation, concern a case involving a former priest of the diocese who after a trial and appeal under Canon Law, was dismissed from the clerical state, with effect from January 2015.

“This means that he is not permitted to act as a priest in any way, whether publicly or privately, or to celebrate Mass or any other Sacrament of the Church.

“As part of his work as DLP, Mr Meagher, along with the deputy DLP, met with the former priest in June to verify that he was abiding by the agreed Covenant of Care.

“They were informed by him that he was celebrating Mass privately at his home.

“At the time the former priest defended this action as being based on the advice of his canon lawyer who, unknown to me, had further appealed the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome.

“When this matter was brought to my attention I was certain that this recourse was not legitimate. However, I believed that no further action by me was possible, until I received notification from the CDF. This led to Mr Meagher resigning as he did not agree with my position.”

Bishop Crean said he then wrote to the former priest stating that because he was dismissed from the priesthood, he “cannot act as a priest in any manner whatsoever”.

He has also written to survivors to explain his position and to apologise for further distress which has been caused to them.

“I wish to assure the people of the diocese that this specific matter did not involve a risk to children, and that child safeguarding continues to be of paramount importance in the Diocese of Cloyne,” he added.

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