Category: Archive

Unholy rollers

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Revelations in the Irish media last week that a 73-year-old priest, the Rev. Mossie Dillane, was the father of a son born two months ago to Madonna Byrnes, a local teacher 41 years his junior, caused the couple to flee from their parish in Mullagh, Co. Galway.
Public reaction to the news, however, proved more sympathetic than critical. Several parishioners came out in support of the couple, who had been involved for a number of years.
Radio listeners on the RTE afternoon radio show “Joe Duffy,” voted four-to-one in favor of allowing priests to marry. Rebel priest Patrick Buckley even offered to marry the couple.
Criticism has been aimed primarily at the Catholic Church for refusing to reverse its rules enforcing celibacy and banning the marriage option for priests.
A poll in last week’s Sunday Independent, showed that over half of respondents supported Dillane, who served as a missionary priest in San Antonio, Texas, for several years before returning to Ireland in the mid-1990s.
Seventy-six percent were in favor of ditching the celibacy in the Catholic Church.
A subsequent report in the Daily Mirror, claimed that five hundred women in Ireland are currently in sexual relationships with priests, prompting calls for debate on clerical reform.
“The compulsory celibacy issue has to be addressed. I’m not saying what the conclusions will be but at least it is time that we discussed it,” broadcaster the Rev. Brian D’Arcy said on RTE radio’s “Liveline,” program last week.
“I really think that some of the absolute cream of the priesthood have been lost and I think it’s one of the reasons we are in the huge mess we’re in at the moment,” he saidl
“I empathize with him [Dillane], all priests struggle with celibacy,” the FDNY chaplain the Rev. Brian Jordan told the Echo. Jordan thinks that married men should be allowed to become Catholic priests.
“But the law of the Church is mandatory celibacy. Until the rules change, and I hope the will, priests can’t lead double lives,” he said.
In the same week, former bishop of Galway Eamonn Casey announced his intention to return to Ireland, where he plans to retire. The 78-year-old Casey has been living abroad since 1992, when it was revealed that he had an 18-year-old son by an American woman, Annie Murphy. Murphy subsequently wrote a book, “Forbidden Fruit,” about their affair.
Casey has spent the past six years in a ministry in the South of England. However, he stepped down from the ministry last December amid reports that a middle-aged woman made allegations of an unspecified nature against him.
It is understood that Casey has held meetings in Ireland with the current bishop of Galway, Dr. Martin Drennan, concerning his return. No formal return date has been announced yet.

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