Priest returns to pulpit as claim withdrawn
A PRIEST has returned to the pulpit after taking a leave of absence while an allegation against him was investigated.
A large congregation gathered in the Church of the Assumption in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, as parish priest, Fr Peter Muldowney, returned to perform Mass for the first time since stepping down last September.
Fr Muldowney said last night he was "absolutely delighted, relieved and very happy to be back".
Bishop Seamus Freeman, from the Diocese of Ossory, confirmed Fr Muldowney had sought a leave of absence from ministry to allow the diocese to investigate a "safeguarding matter" it had received concerning him. The bishop yesterday confirmed the "safeguarding matter has been withdrawn".
"All church and state safeguarding guidelines were fully complied with," Dr Freeman said in a statement.
He assisted Fr Muldowney in the Mass and welcomed the native of Kilmanagh, Co Kilkenny, back to active ministry.
Fr Muldowney, who was formerly a Christian Brother before taking up a late vocation to the priesthood, received a round of applause from the congregation. He thanked parishioners for their support and invited those who attended Mass back to the parochial house for refreshments.
"I had a good, positive response from parishioners in Mooncoin," he said. "I'm grateful to all my friends and family for all their support and help through this difficult time."