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Monday 18 February 2019

Kerry priest: 'Celibacy is a sin...against will of God'

Rathmore native Fr Daniel O’Leary criticised celibacy in final column for The Tablet

Fr Daniel O’Leary
Fr Daniel O’Leary

Renowned spiritual writer Fr Daniel O'Leary described compulsory clerical celibacy as 'a kind of sin' wreaking 'violence' on the humanity of Catholic priests, in his final column for Catholic weekly The Tablet.

The Rathmore native, a priest of the Diocese of Leeds in the UK, passed away on January 21 following a battle with cancer. His Funeral Mass and burial is taking place today (Thursday) in his native home.

Beloved by a legion of readers for his books and teachings on spirituality, Fr Daniel O'Leary pulled no punches in his final, posthumously-published, piece - writing on his revised approach to priestly celibacy which he said he came to regard as an 'assault against God's will and nature'.

Fr O'Leary wrote: "I now believe, with all my heart, that compulsory celibacy is a kind of sin, an assault against God's will and nature.

"I'm just pointing out that one of the fall-outs of mandatory celibate life is the violence it does to a priest's humanity, and the wounds that it leaves on his ministry," Fr O'Leary wrote.

He acknowledged that his words would prove difficult for many within the Church,

"Please remember, I'm only recalling the memories, convictions and awakenings that are filling my soul during these ever-so-strange final days and nights...The enemy, we were warned, back in the 1950s, was a failure in prayer; falling in love was the cancer; suppression, sublimation and confession were the cure. Emotion was the threat; detachment was the safeguard; becoming too human was the risk; the subtle carapace of clericalism was the precaution."

Describing clericalism as a 'collective malaise' he wrote: "It keeps vibrant, abundant life at bay; it quarantines us for life from the personal and communal expression of healing relationships, and the lovely grace of the tenderness which Pope Francis is trying to restore to the hearts of all God's people."

Fr O'Leary was revered for a career in which he managed to combine diocesan ministry with lecturing, a prolific output of books and articles and much more. He is survived by his brother Fr Micheál and his sister Maura.

Corkman

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