Father Brian D'Arcy, one of Ireland's best known priests, has been censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican.

It was reported by the international Catholic publication, the Tablet newspaper.

St Gabriel's Retreat in the Graan in Enniskillen, where Fr D'Arcy serves as rector, confirmed the report this afternoon.

Fr D'Arcy, a Passionist priest, is a broadcaster and regular contributor to newspapers.

Today he said he was "disappointed" that there is not a better respect for the freedom of speech in the church to which he has given 50 years of his life.

Fr D'Arcy was recently awarded a lifetime membership of the National Union of Journalists.

He described himself today as a priest of good standing. He said he had been living with the censure for the last 14 months and was doing his best to do so successfully.

But he added that as a journalist he must have some ability to speak freely.

He said when his newspaper articles concern matters of faith and morals, he now has them checked by a qualified theologian.

Fr D'Arcy said nobody wants to be censured by their own organisation, he added that the matter had "arrived on him today" in a public sense and that he now needs time to think and pray.

He also said that it was a time for others to discuss the issue.