Ordained a priest now a married social worker Michael Hand is critical of the Roman Catholic Church mandate on clerical celibacy.

Social worker Michael Hand and his wife Elisabeth Goell live in Omagh, County Tyrone with their two year old daughter. In 1981 Michel Hand was ordained a Catholic priest in County Monaghan. Having entered Maynooth seminary at the age of seventeen, he believed he would be a priest for his entire life.

However by the end of the 1980s, Michael Hand had left the priesthood to become a social worker in Omagh. He did not take this life changing decision lightly, but ultimately as a priest he realised he could not live with celibacy,

I couldn’t live the single life any more.

Michael Hand married Elisabeth Goell in a registry office. As he has not been laicised,

Technically he is a priest living in sin.

Since entering the Maynooth seminary he has witnessed a number of his contemporaries abandoning their vocations over the celibacy issue.

Michael Hand is disheartened when he hears people talking about the immorality of Bishop Casey,

I would rather talk about the immorality of the system that forces people into situations like that.

Michael Hand believes change will come to the Catholic Church. This will see the Church democratised and the end of enforced celibacy.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 27 May 1992. The reporter is Alasdair Jackson.