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Monday 23 April 2018

Priest vows to fight back at Vatican dismissal

Ralph Riegel and Majella O'Sullivan

A CLERIC has vowed to fight the decision by a top Vatican court to dismiss him from the priesthood.

Fr Dan Duane (76) told the Irish Independent that he was "very disappointed" by the decision of the Vatican to uphold a ruling of the Apostolic Signatura, one of Rome's highest clerical courts, which recommended he be dismissed.

The Vatican court last month rejected Fr Duane's appeal against being defrocked following a Church investigation over child sexual abuse allegations.

Fr Duane, who has been in restricted ministry for the past eight years, had appealed the ruling of a canonical court in Ireland that he be dismissed from the clerical state.

But Pope Francis has now endorsed the decision of the top Roman court.

The Diocese of Cloyne apologised to those who had levelled abuse allegations for the length of time the clerical dismissal process took.

Fr Duane of Mallow, Co Cork has vehemently denied all the allegations which related to his historic work in the sprawling Cork diocese.

"I am very disappointed at the decision of the Church court, held in private, having been acquitted by a judge and jury in open court in Cork," he said. "I will now consider what options are open to me to clear my name."

He claimed he had been the victim of a campaign of intimidation and harassment because of the allegations.

Since 2005, Fr Duane has not been permitted to carry out active ministry and is forbidden from wearing clerical attire or saying Mass in public.

However, he has never been convicted of any offence.

Fr Duane appealed the decision of the canonical court in Ireland to Pope Francis and the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, a clerical court of appeal, but this appeal has now been thrown out.

The canonical court, comprised of a notary and three priest-judges, upheld the allegations against the elderly priest to the Church's moral standard.

One of the complainants described the ruling as "a total vindication" and welcomed the dismissal recommendation.

"It is an enormous relief to finally have been believed after all these years," she said.

A statement on behalf of the Catholic bishops said the decision to dismiss the former priest had been taken "after a long period of deliberation on all the evidence provided".

Apologised

Bishop of Cloyne Dr William Crean has previously apologised to victims of clerical sex abuse in the diocese, and paid tribute to them for having the courage to come forward and tell their stories.

"On behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese (of Cloyne) may I once again extend my deepest sympathy and sorrow," he said. "I apologise to them once again and to all who have suffered abuse of any kind at the hands of clergy."

"I want to assure the people of Cloyne that the most comprehensive child protection measures are in place in the diocese to ensure that these evil acts never again occur."

"We can never be complacent and the work continues on a daily basis, by hundreds of people, to ensure that our children and young people are safe from harm."

Irish Independent

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