Kilmore Diocese releases statement over priest

Sunday 18 December 2011 23.05
Kilmore Diocese releases statement over priest

The Diocese of Kilmore has released a statement reacting to queries from RTÉ regarding a priest at the centre of abuse allegations and complaints who continues to live in a parochial house, despite the expressed wishes of the Diocese that he move.

The priest voluntarily stood aside from Ministry in September and Bishop Leo O'Reilly announced the developments during weekly mass in the parish in question.

However, since September he has continued to live in the house, which is close to the local church.

This is despite repeated requests from Bishop Leo O'Reilly that he moves to alternative accommodation.

The church has confirmed that as late as yesterday a number of alternative addresses at which the priest could reside were provided by the Diocese.

The issue has deeply divided the local community and some members of the church have withdrawn from involvement in church activities.

Kilmore Diocese is according to a recent audit by the National Office for the Safe Guarding of Children a "model of best practice".

Bishop Leo O'Reilly has said in a statement to RTÉ's This Week programme that he is “very much aware” of his leadership responsibility to safeguard children in the diocese.

He said: “I am absolutely determined to discharge those responsibilities fully. In doing so, and in responding to this case, children are placed first and I am committed to achieving justice for all concerned.”

Bishop Leo O'Reilly says that the Diocese of Kilmore applies the standards of good practice in safeguarding children proposed by the latest Church and State guidelines.

However, he adds, “ongoing vigilance and cooperation throughout the diocese is required to make these guidelines work. I therefore invite anybody who may have concerns in this regard to contact the Child Safeguarding Designated Person of the diocese, Suzie Duffy; An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive.”

Reacting the Association of Catholic Priests has criticised the practice of announcing at masses that priests are standing aside from duties as a result of complaints.

Fr Sean McDonagh said it is a misuse of the mass to do so, Fr McDonagh was responding to the case in the Diocese of Kilmore in which a priest has not left the local parochial house despite standing down from duties last September.

The Association says in many cases priests being asked to leave their homes proved enormous problems for priests when they are asked to leave their home.

Fr McDonagh said priests vacating their homes often lead to a presumption of guilt on the part of members of the public.

The Association has, through its legal representatives, sought a meeting with Irish Bishops to discuss its concerns surrounding guidelines as they currently exist. The Association says it does not want to be in conflict with Bishops but it wants discussion.

The Association says a uniform national approach to guidelines is needed.