Priests who die while facing accusations of sexual abuse are being denied traditional Catholic funerals, it has been revealed.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has voiced concerns over the funeral arrangements for stepped-down members of the clergy.
Its spokesman called the practice - which applies even if the priest was not convicted of any offence - "terrible".
Fr Tim Hazelwood said: "We're concerned at funeral arrangements for stepped-down priests or those facing accusations, particularly for priests who have been accused of something but nothing has been proved.
"I personally know an elderly priest who's been facing an accusation, which he totally denies, dating back 40 years.
"In his case, he will be denied a proper Catholic funeral, and it's causing him and his family terrible distress.
"The situation differs from diocese to diocese, but in general priests in this situation are treated terribly.
"Even members of the Kinahan gang or convicted murderers can expect proper Catholic funerals, but that's not the case with some priests, who really are treated like the lepers of Irish society."
The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) has published a list of broad guidelines to Church authorities on how to discreetly conduct the funerals of clerics who had allegations made against them.
Some dioceses have adopted even more stringent policies, including rulings that funerals take place in a private chapel, that no death notice be published, that the deceased be referred to by his Christian name throughout, and not be buried in his clerical garb.
One set of diocesan guidelines obtained by the ACP suggests "consideration be given to have the funeral liturgies in a private chapel and/or a time other than the usual times".