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RC child-protection officer resigns in dispute with bishop

11 September 2015

iSTOCK

THE Designated Liaison Person (DLP) for child protection in the RC diocese of Cloyne has resigned after a disagreement with the Bishop of Cloyne, the Rt Revd William Crean, over the Bishop’s handling of the case of a priest who had been deposed from Holy Orders.

The DLP, Bill Meagher, resigned when he discovered that the priest had been saying mass privately. The priest — after a trial, and an appeal under Canon Law — was not permitted to officiate in public or in private.

In a statement, Bishop Crean said at the weekend: “As part of his work as DLP, Mr Meagher, along with the deputy DLP, met with the former priest in June to verify that he was abiding by the agreed Covenant of Care. They were informed by him that he was celebrating mass privately at his home.

“At the time, the former priest defended this action as being based on the advice of his canon lawyer, who, unknown to me, had further appealed the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF] in Rome.”

Bishop Crean said that he believed that the further appeal was not legitimate, but felt unable to act until he had received further information from the Congregation in Rome. This, the Bishop said, led to Mr Meagher’s resignation, which he greatly regretted.

“I immediately sought further advice on the matter, which confirmed my conviction that no further appeal was possible. I then wrote to the former priest to reiterate that, as he is dismissed from the priesthood, he cannot act as a priest in any manner whatsoever. I have also communicated the importance of the situation to the CDF. I have since updated Mr Meagher on developments. . .

“I have written to survivors in the diocese to explain my position, and to apologise for further distress caused to them. Through the diocesan support persons, arrangements are being made for survivors to meet with me if they so wish.”

Last month, Bishop Crean intervened in the case of Fr Tony Flannery, preventing him from addressing a “Spiritfest” at Killeagh, in Cloyne diocese (News, 28 August).

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