Wednesday, 23 August 2017



The word "MASS" was NOT USED about the Eucharist during the first 300 years of Christianity.

Dominic Cassela writes:

It was a crisp Sunday morning as you slipped into your friend’s home through the  back door into their dining room (coenaculum). The dew is still fresh upon the olive branches. The house is full of men and women alike, all meeting in secret. The service begins. With the sun now starting to rise, a quiet hymn is sung in worship to Christ, as God. This, of course, was followed by a joint vow to not commit theft nor robbery nor adultery, not to break their word nor to refuse to give up a deposit. A slight pause separating the two services takes place, then a man goes to the head of the dining table. Bread is broken and wine poured into a chalice. Thanksgiving is made, and the congregation takes part in the consumption of the two species in remembrance of their God.
The year is 70 A.D. and this was how the early Catholics celebrated the Eucharist. This was the mass. Originally a seed that was given by Christ to the hearts and souls of the early Apostles and Disciples passed down and through the ages. The same seed took root and grew according to the Apostle who sowed it.
It becomes extremely clear to the historian that Liturgical practice varied greatly before and after the Edict of Milan in 313 AD. From the fourth century onwards we have very detailed information about liturgical disciplines. The Fathers such as St. Cyril of Jerusalem [d. 386], St. Athanasius [d. 373], St. Basil [d. 379], St. John Chrysostom [d. 407] give us elaborate descriptions of the various rites they celebrated. Both the Liturgy of St. Basil and Chrysosotom are still in use today in the many churches that make up the Byzantine Rite Catholic Churches since the Union of Uzhhorod (1646).  However, this is not to forget the Liturgy of St. James or the Thomastic rite liturgies that exist with the Syrian and Indian churches, and the Gallic and Celtic Rites that existed in Western Europe, alongside the Roman Rite.

Father Charles Dilke has written: HISTORY OF THE MASS EXPLAINED.

Image result for father charles dilke

Let us begin by trying to see what Mass would have been like the first time it was said in Rome. Later in time, some people, even Popes, would say that, for example, the Roman Canon (Canon No. l) was composed by St Peter himself and has never been subsequently changed. An examination of the available documents however shows clearly that this was not the case. The Roman Canon was probably composed in more or less its present form about 350 AD and after that some of what is now in the Canon, for example the commemoration of the Dead, had to wait several centuries before being inserted into the Canon of the Mass. 


It is clear that the Eucharist/Mass/Breaking of Bread began in a very simple way with the early Christians in Jerusalem.

It is also clear that the Doctrine of the Mass - and its practice has changed over the centuries in a process of DEVELOPMENT - right up to our own time when the Second Vatican Council changed the Mass into the vernacular after 400 years of Latin Mass.

In the last number of years Pope Benedict changed some of the wording of the Vernacular Mass.


Can I make it VERY CLEAR that I believe in the Roman Catholic understanding of the Mass.

I believe that under the form of bread and wine we receive the actual, true Body of Christ.

I believe that the substance of the bread disappears and becomes the REAL Body of Christ and that the substance of the wine disappears and becomes the REAL Blood of Christ.

In other words I believe in the Catholic teaching of THE REAL PRESENCE.

For that reason, I as a priest, take great care of the consecrated species and reserve anything left over in the Tabernacle.


Other churches and other Christians do not believe what we Catholics believe.

Some of them believe in a symbolic present of Jesus in the bread and wine.


However I believe that no one - including the Roman Catholic Church and The Vatican has the power to tell God how, when and where He becomes present.

In the Bible we are told that where two or three gather in the name of Christ He promises to be with them.

I believe that when the Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians have Communion Jesus becomes present.

I remain disturbed by the thoughts of the bread and wine used for the Eucharist is later thrown away in any form.

I also believe that if three lay people were stranded on a desert island and broke bread in memory of Jesus that He would be present with them.

You see the Eucharist is basically a MYSTERY.

We Christians believe in mysteries but we cannot always explain them.

Philosophers have tried in various ways to say what the Eucharist is.

They have succeeded or failed to greater or lesser degrees.

I as a Catholic celebrate Mass and I believe in the Real Presence.

But I cannot say that Jesus DOES NOT BECOME PRESENT to other Christians when they celebrate the Eucharist in different ways or have different beliefs about it.

Also, if I am at a Communion Service in any Church and am welcome to receive Communion I always do.

Monday, 21 August 2017


An Introduction To Feminist Theology

By Nicola Slee
 Nicola Slee
Feminist theology, or more properly, theologies, has emerged in modern times as a challenge to the male bias in religion and society as a whole. Although feminist theology has many significant roots in pre-modern history, it has only emerged as a fully conscious movement with its own literature, spokespersons, principles and methods in the past three or four decades. Influenced and empowered by the secular women's movement of the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement in the United States and liberation theology from Latin America, the first critical feminist theological work emerged from the States at the beginning of the sixties and from there spread to Europe and the rest of the globe. We should not assume that the foundations of feminist theology are exclusively white and western. As Kwok Pui-Lan points out, ‘the emergence of white feminist theology in the contemporary period… was embedded in the larger political, cultural, and social configurations of its time’ (Cambridge Companion to Feminist Theology, 2002, p. 26). At any rate, within a few decades, feminist theology has become a global movement situated in many settings, and drawing on many different political, philosophical and religious roots to express its concerns and convictions.
Key concepts and principles of feminist theology
There is no one feminism or feminist theology. Feminist theologians come from many different faith traditions, cultures, backgrounds and academic persuasions. Nevertheless, there are certain fundamental principles: broad, underlying convictions which most, if not all, feminists hold, and which underpin and shape feminist theology in its many different guises. All of these are the focus of much critical debate, but it is essential to have some grasp of them if you are to understand what feminism and feminist theology is about. 
The structural injustice of sexism
According to feminism, human community is characterised by a basic structural injustice, a distorted relationality between the sexes, such that men as a group have power over women as a group. This basic inequality has characterised all known history, is universal and is enshrined in language, culture, social relations, mythology and religion. The most fundamental feature of this distorted relationality is a pervasive dualism which makes a sharp distinction between perceived male and female roles, characteristics and areas of responsibility, valuing those identified with the male as inherently superior to those identified with the female.  For example, masculinity is identified with rationality, power and initiative, whereas femininity is identified with emotion and intuition, weakness and passivity. This dualism is established in the social relations assigned to men and women – men dominate in the public sphere, women in the private, for example – but is ratified at the level of mythology, ritual and theology. The patriarchal God upholds and is at the apex of this dualistic system. God is associated with the male and identified with masculine characteristics such as those already mentioned, and is cast over and against the female.  
A key consequence of sexism is androcentrism - the bias of society and culture towards the male, the assumption that the male is norm. Androcentrism functions at every level of human culture and society: in its history, traditions, language, arts, professions, and so on, all of which have been controlled and monopolised by men. A consequence of androcentrism is that women are systematically excluded and obliterated from historical traditions and contemporary thought-forms, and thus rendered invisible to themselves and others.
Sexism and androcentrism are twin features of patriarchy, a much-used concept in feminism which refers to the system of oppression, injustice and exploitation that operates between the sexes. Patriarchy (literally, the power of the fathers) refers to the social system in which sexism operates, a system which is organised entirely on the basis of male domination of women.
The grounding of theology in women's experience
All theology is done on the basis of experience, whether this is acknowledged or not. Most theology in the past has been done almost exclusively from the perspective of male experience; men have been those who have written, taught and preached about the meaning of faith, and women have been excluded from such offices and opportunities that would have allowed them to study the faith. Nevertheless, theology has been ‘gender-blind’: it did not recognise the partiality and bias of its pronouncements, but offered them as universally valid and applicable to all humanity. By insisting on doing theology from the perspective of women's experience, feminists are both calling attention to the androcentrism of previous theology and seeking to redress the imbalance of a religious tradition in which the dominant forms of thought and expression have been owned and controlled by men.  
In a much-quoted passage, Rosemary Radford Ruether expresses this principle as follows:
The critical principle of feminist theology is the promotion of the full humanity of women…. Theologically speaking, whatever diminishes or denies the full humanity of women must be presumed not to reflect the divine or an authentic relation to the divine, or to reflect the authentic nature of things, or to be the message or work of an authentic redeemer or a community of redemption. (Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk, 1983, pp. 18-19)
Listening and looking for difference
The need to extend the notion of 'women's experience' beyond simplistic assumptions of an undifferentiated unity of all women everywhere leads to the formulation of this principle. This has become a prominent commitment within recent feminist theory, rooted in the assumption that no matter how much like another human being one person may be, there is always difference present and there is always potential for these differences to change over time. What this means for feminist theology is well expressed by Linda Hogan:
 A theology based on women's experience and praxis must of necessity acknowledge and learn to value difference…. A theology based on an understanding of women's experience and praxis, which is sensitive to racial, class and sexual differences among women, must recognise women's 'different primary emergencies' (From Women’s Experience to Feminist Theology, 1995, p. 167).
In other words, feminist theology must beware of making any generalised statements about the meaning of God, the church or Bible for women, since any one woman will be speaking from one particular situation and vantage point, and cannot speak on behalf of all women.
Commitment to liberating and empowering women
Theology must not be isolated in the ivory tower of academia but must take root in the streets and the homes of ordinary women and men, and must be orientated to the transformation of society; and particularly to the liberation and empowerment of women.   Theology which has, in the past, fuelled and legitimised women's oppression must now become a tool and resource for women's empowerment. What makes theology feminist according to this principle is not merely the subject matter or content (i.e., theology about women) or the gender of the theologian (i.e., theology by women) but the commitment to doing theology with the specific goal of empowering and liberating women (i.e., theology for women).    

This is an edited extract of chapter 1 of Faith and Feminism: An Introduction to Christian Feminist Theology by Nicola Slee (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003).  The book serves as a fuller introduction to feminist theology. This text is designed as a basic but reasonably thorough introduction.  See also Nicola’s reading list on the WATCH website:
Dr Nicola Slee is Director of Research at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham.  She is the author of numerous texts, including Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004), Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes (Ashgate, 2004), The Book of Mary (SPCK, 2009) and Seeking the Risen Christa (SPCK, 2011).  She is an honorary Vice-President of WATCH (Women and the Church), and an Anglican laywoman.

THE IRISH TIMES - 21.8.2017

Catholic Church shows signs of listening to growing calls for greater gender equality

Woman who feels calling to priesthood says daughter asks: ‘How can you follow such an institution?’

Dr Ann-Marie Desmond, from Timoleague, Co Cork: “I can’t see anything wrong with women celebrating the Eucharist.”

As the clamour demanding full equality for women in the Catholic Church grows ever louder indications are that it is beginning to make an impact at the very highest level.
Just this summer Sweden’s first Cardinal Anders Arborelius proposed that Pope Francis create a special advisory body of women similar to the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Arborelius was himself admitted to the college in Rome last June.
“It’s very important to find a broader way of involving women at various levels in the church. The role of women is very, very important in society, in economics, but in the church sometimes we are a bit behind,” he told media in Rome.
Similarly German cardinal Reinhard Marx, a member of the council of nine cardinals which advise Pope Francis, has called on the church to admit a greater percentage of women to its upper echelons.
“We would be mad not to use women’s talents. In fact, it would be downright foolish,” he said. The fact that only men can be ordained Catholic priests was “certainly not helping the church come across as a pioneer of equal rights”.
The church’s message must be inclusive, he continued, and “that is why I want to emphasise that positions of responsibility and executive positions in the church that are open to lay people must be shared by both men and women”.
Whereas admission toe quality in church administrationmight be welcomed by some women, their glaring absence from clergy, whether as deacons, priests, or bishops, remains for most the true indicator of their second-class status as members.
Last year Pope Francis set up a commission to look at the possibility of admitting women to the diaconate, which is now also reserved for men only. The commission is a welcome step where women are concerned, but just that.
Papal decision
In Ireland, the Association of Catholic Priests has called on all dioceses to hold off on the introduction of the permanent diaconate until this commission reports and Pope Francis makes a decision based on its findings.
“We believe that proceeding with the introduction of a male permanent diaconate at this time, and thereby adding another male clerical layer to ministry, is insensitive, disrespectful of women, and counterproductive at this present critical time,” it said last week in a statement.
It was commenting after Fr Roy Donovan objected to a decision by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly in his archdiocese of Cashel and Emly to set up a body to look at introducing the male-only diaconate there.
“What are the implications of this when already there are so many women involved on the ground, in all kinds of ministries, without been given much status and power? Have they not also earned their place at the top table?” he asked.
Fr Donovan told The Irish Times the response to his stance had been “all very positive, including men as well”. In his own experience no parish in which he had served could have functioned without the work of women.
“It’s very difficult to get men involved, even in pastoral councils,” he said.
He recalled a recent US study that indicated that as many as 66 per cent of parish roles there were filled by women. “The church is only going to lose if women are excluded from the top table, especially when it comes to younger women.”
One woman who believes she has a vocation to the Catholic priesthood is Dr Ann-Marie Desmond (54) of Timoleague, Co Cork. A teacher of religion and history, with a PhD in education and degrees in theology and history, she is married with two grown-up daughters.
Devout family
Hers was a traditional Catholic upbringing in a devout family and with an aunt a nun. Even when her brother was an altar server she did not question why, then, she could not become one too. Girls are now allowed be altar servers, and in most parishes these days the altar servers are girls.
It was at third level education that Ms Desmond began to question things and later when, preparing for Masses, women like her “would organise everything, pick the readings etc., and a man [priest] would come in, take over, and celebrate it”. She has herself been a minister of the word and of the Eucharist.
Hers has remained “a very committed faith” but she had become “very anti the institution”, she said. This was not just because of its exclusion of women but also “of gay people, and people such as the divorced and remarried, from Communion. I would want a much more inclusive church,” she continued.
A lot of women like her retained “a deep faith but would no longer be followers of the Catholic Church”. She had explored other churches and admired in particular the inclusivity of Anglicanism in the form of the Church of Ireland, but “had stayed within [the Catholic Church] to speak out”.
The church needed priests, “a value-driven leadership”, she said but this should also include women. “I can’t see anything wrong with women celebrating the Eucharist,” she said. The reason Jesus did not include women among the apostles was because of the culture of his time when women remained in the home, she said.
“Many of the apostles were also married,” she pointed out, as an indicator of the inconsistency of the church’s position on priesthood which now demands its priests be celibate.
She welcomed, “very, very cautiously”, the Pope’s commission on women deacons as, possibly, “a gradual evolution towards priesthood”. It was “a step in the right direction”.
But she wonders about the church’s future where younger women are concerned. “How can you be a follower of such an institution?” one of her daughter’s asked recently, reflecting on its exclusion of women.


A good definition of theology would be:

the study of religious faith, practice, and experiencethe study of God and God's relation to the world

Feminist theology, therefore could be described as the study of religious faith, practice and experience of God in the context of the feminine and women.

God is neither male or female. He / She is male, female and a lot more - infinitely more.

In Jesus God became present in the world through a male.

In lesser ways - but ways that are also vital, God has become present to the world in men, women, animals, plants, trees, nature etc.

All that exists is a revelation of God who has created all that exists.

However, theology is the study of God by men and women.

Men and women, even and especially in the Bible, are often limited in their studies by various factors including cultural factors.

In the past Society - and the Church - was very male and patriarchal. 

To study God from a male-only perspective is to end up with a limited understanding of God.

I see Feminist Theology as an effort to rebalance the study of God taking on board the enormous importance and vital perspective of woman and the feminine.

Like in all theologies people can get it wrong and go to extremes. 

Balance, rational, openminded balance is so important.

Feminist Theology is a challenge to all of us to rebalance and recalibrate our study of God taking the feminine perspective full on board.

Theology is multi-faceted.

There is Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Liberation Theology, etc.

We need Feminist Theology to be allowed to take its properly deserved place in the Theology Pantheon. 



The Eucharist was moving, dignified, uplifting and we all left afterwards touched by God and his/her Holy Spirit.

 The Eucharistic text which Bridget and Mary Teresa used was the one used in their US communities by THE ASSOCIATION OF ROMAN CATHOLIC WOMEN PRIESTS and therefore it was different.

On paper it seemed strange but when it was celebrated - along with chosen readings and music - it was wonderful.

The Eucharist was attended by regular Oratory goers and by a number of other interested parties.

One man present was a Presbyterian man called Graham Saunderson who has a dedicated ministry to truck drivers and their families - called Glory Road Ministeries.

From left: Bishop Bridget, Mary Teresa, Joan and Graham Saunderson.
The main points that Bishop Bridget made in her homily was:

1. God's all-embracing love for all his children regardless of gender, race, denomination,  orientation etc.

2. That the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is NOT LEAVING the Church - but LEADING the Church.

3. She recalled Pope Francis' recent decision to set up a commission to study on Women Deacons.

Image result for pope francis with a woman

4. She told us of a long meeting two of her women priest colleagues had with one of Pope Francis' senior advisers in Rome and their later attendance at a papal Mass where they were given places of honour and received Holy Communion.


During the Eucharist we prayed especially for all the dead and injured in Barcelona and all their family and friends. 

I have agreed with the ordination of women for 20 years.

Yesterday's experience copper fastened me in the belief that not only is it right and that GOD WANTS IT





Rebel female bishop on Northern Ireland crusade to recruit women into Catholic priesthood.

By Suzanne Breen

August 21 2017

A female Catholic bishop excommunicated by the Vatican is in Northern Ireland on a recruitment drive to expand her movement of women priests.

Bridget Mary Meehan said five women who believe they have a vocation had come forward in the Republic and she hoped for a similar number on this side of the border.

"We have 250 women priests and 11 bishops but I'm the only Irish-born one and I would love to change that," she said. "I ordained a female priest in Scotland in 2009, which was very exciting, but my dream is to come home next year to ordain women in Ireland.

"I believe our movement is in harmony with everything Pope Francis stands for in wanting a more open and inclusive Church."

The women, who belong to the US-based Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP), are defying the Vatican's ban on female clergy.

Bishop Meehan stressed that although she had been excommunicated, she still saw herself as part of the mainstream Church.

"As an Irish Catholic, Catholicism is in my DNA," she said.

"This isn't about leaving the Church, it's about leading it. This is about moving the Church towards equality and justice and healing the wounds of centuries of sexism."

She yesterday said Mass at the Oratory, the church of  Bishop Pat Buckley in Larne. He branded opposition to women priests as "sexism dressed up with theology".

Born in Coolkerry, Co Laois, Meehan was ordained a priest in 2006 and a bishop three years later. The 69-year-old currently ministers in Florida.

Her family support her stance.

"My late father Jack Meehan was 82 when I was ordained. He was very proud of me. He had been a dance band leader in the 1940s and he played music at Masses which I celebrated," she said.

Bishop Meehan said being branded "a white witch" and facing other insults didn't bother her.

"I grew up in a conservative Catholic tradition so I see those criticisms as part of the journey we're all on," she said.

She rejected the Vatican's argument that women couldn't be priests because the 12 Apostles were male. "The risen Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, not to the Apostles, and called on her to announce the good news of Christianity. Mary Magdalene was the Apostle to the Apostles," she said.

The ARCWP has significantly expanded from 2002 when seven women were ordained priests on a ship on the River Danube.

The organisation insists its ordinations are valid because the male bishop ordaining the first female bishops has "apostolic succession within the Catholic Church".

Bishop Meehan was excommunicated in 2007, but insisted: "Our actions are justified because we are disobeying an unjust law. No one can cancel my baptism - it's equal to that of any bishop, cardinal or Pope."

Pope Francis has said the Church is unlikely to lift its ban on female priests but he has set up a commission to investigate whether women could be ordained as deacons, giving them the authority to marry couples and baptise babies, but not to celebrate Mass.

While Bishop Meehan sees him as "moving in the right direction", Bishop  Buckley is less optimistic. "Even if Francis wanted change, he is surrounded by a conservative cabal who will prevent it," he said.

"The battle for women priests will be far harder than that for married priests. Opposition isn't just in the Vatican, it's extensive at a grassroots level."

Bishop Meehan urged women who have a vocation to contact her at or

Belfast Telegraph




Sunday, 20 August 2017

Global campaign by priest’s son led to new guidelines for clerics with children

Bishops say principles were drafted in response to Doyle’s request Archbishop Martin agreed to fund support website for priests’ children

Vincent Doyle overlooks above the River Shannon in Athlone where he used to walk with Fr John J. Doyle who Vincent did not know was his father.

It was the early 1980s when Vincent Doyle’s parents first met at a wedding in Co Cavan.
Fr John J Doyle (44) was a Co Longford Spiritan (Holy Ghost) priest, home from the US diocese of Camden, New Jersey.
His mother was a married woman with three children.
Fr Doyle (JJ) arranged for his transfer back to Ireland, to the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, and to Longford town near where she lived. The priest would later serve in Ardagh, Co Longford and finally in Edgeworthstown, where he died of lung cancer in June 1995.
By then, his son Vincent was 12. He would be 28 before his mother acknowledged that Fr Doyle was his father. As a boy, he had a very good relationship with the priest, who was also his godfather, he told The Irish Times. “I spent a lot of time with him,” he said.
It was, he feels, probably his father’s influence which later led him to Maynooth where he took a degree in theology, philosophy and English. He then studied for a master’s degree in chaplaincy and pastoral care at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin and spent a year at a seminary in Spain before deciding the priesthood was not for him.
He has since qualified as a psychotherapist and become engaged. He remains a practising Catholic, with desire to hurt the Church.
It was in 2012 he first had the idea of setting up a website for people like himself whose fathers were priests. It arose from a discussion he had with a woman who was a priest’s daughter.
He went to see then papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Browne, who was very supportive and arranged for him to have a front seat at a general audience no in Rome with Pope Francis on June 4th, 2014, the anniversary of his father’s death.
There he passed a letter in Spanish to the pope, later acknowledged. He had sent a similar letter to the Irish Catholic bishops, asking what they proposed to do about children fathered by priests.

(FOR FUTURE PROJECT. DO NOT PUBLISH.) Handout family photo from Vincent Doyle. A photo of Vincent, left, on June 4, 2014, meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican---he met His Holiness on the anniversary of his father's death.

Back in Ireland, he went to see Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin who, as with Archbishop Brown, he found “very accommodating”.
When he mooted the idea of a website, Archbishop Martin was “very encouraging, really helpful, saying we should do it right”. The archbishop agreed to fund the new website,
In 2015, Doyle contacted the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe in the US as “I wanted the story to go international”. They asked him to keep all under wraps while they researched the story more broadly. He agreed to do so. This week the Boston Globe ran a series on children fathered by Catholic priests.
In the interim, Doyle continued contacts with the Irish bishops. They finally agreed the Principles of responsibility regarding priests who father children while in ministry, yet to be published by the bishops in Ireland.
A spokesman for the bishops said yesterday that the text was originally drafted in response to a request from Vincent Doyle.
Signed off
“The principles, having been approved in draft form by the spring 2017 plenary meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, were sent to Vincent for his review. Having been favourably received by him, the principles were signed off by the standing committee at its meeting on May 29th and were forwarded to Vincent on that date.”
Asked why these principles had not been announced publicly, or published since on the Catholic bishops’ website or any diocesan website, or referred to in the published summaries of the bishops’ 2017 spring or summer meetings, the spokesman said, “it was presumed that Vincent would publish these principles as he saw fit as part of his raising awareness of this issue.”

Image result for father jj doyle

Bishops create guidelines for priests with children

The wellbeing of the child should be the primary consideration for any Catholic priest who becomes a father, guidelines approved by Ireland’s Catholic bishops state.
The guidelines say the priest “should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities.”
In arriving at any decision concerning his child, it is “vital” that the mother, “as the primary caregiver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved”, the document states. It was also “important that a mother and child should not be left isolated or excluded”.
The guidelines, Principles of Responsibility Regarding Priests who Father Children While in Ministry, were approved by the bishops last May, but have yet to be published on their website or any Catholic diocesan website in Ireland.
They were prepared following discussions with Galway-based psychotherapist Vincent Doyle (34), whose father, Co Longford priest Fr JJ Doyle, died of lung cancer in 1995.
Mr Doyle contacted the Boston Globe and, this week, the American newspaper ran a series on children fathered by priests. Mr Doyle has also set up the website www.coping to help people, such as himself, whose fathers were priests. The website has been funded by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
The guidelines state: “In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities – legal, moral and financial.”
They continue: “At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities. His relevant church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities.”
The Irish Episcopal Conference
Upon ordination priests promise to live a life of celibacy in their dedication to Christ and to pastoral ministry in the Church. However if, contrary to this obligation, a priest fathers a child, the wellbeing of his child should be his first consideration.
The following principles of responsibility attempt to articulate a position based on natural justice and subsequent rights regarding the children of priests. This does not replace the responsibility of arriving at practical decisions which pertains to those children with the common good (whether in the family, Church, or State)

(FOR FUTURE PROJECT. DO NOT PUBLISH.) Ireland, 11/2016, A family hand out photo of Reverend John J. Doyle, the priest who was the father of Vincent Doyle, who created the website Coping International to help connect the children of priests all over the world. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff) The Rev. John J. Doyle (cq)with his son, Vincent Doyle (cq).
The birth of a child to a couple brings into being a unique person with a mother and a father. The parents have a fundamental right to make their own decisions regarding the care of their new-born child.
In justice and in love, the needs of the child should be given the first consideration. In the case of a child fathered by a Catholic priest, it follows that a priest, as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities - legal, moral and financial. At a minimum, no priest should walk away from his responsibilities.
His relevant Church authority (bishop or religious superior) should also direct such a priest in addressing his responsibilities
Each situation requires careful consideration (*) but certain principles present themselves on which the decision of the priest should be made
The best interests of the child
Dialogue with, and respect for, the mother of the child
Dialogue with Church superiors
Taking into account civil and canon law (**)
It is vital in discerning a way forward that the mother, as the primary care giver, and as a moral agent in her own right, be fully involved in the decision.
In arriving at a determination regarding these cases, it is important that a mother and child should not be let isolated or excluded.
*In particular, cultural contexts can have an important bearing. However, the moral agency of the mother will remain important to the cultural contexts
**Such laws or norms may include rights of custody and maintenance (civil law) or the process of laicization (canon law) Approved May 2017

900 years of celibacy… and children

The Catholic church has forbidden priests to marry and have families since 1139, but that hasn't stopped them from having children.
  • Following along tradition, celibacy requirement for priests is affirmed at a meeting of the Second Lateran Council
  • Pope Alexander VI is elected by the College of Cardinals after fathering four children as a priest
  • The celibacy requirement is affirmed again at the Council of Trent
  • Pope John XXIII convenes Vatican II, raising hopes that the Church will relax the celibacy requirement
  • Pope Paul VI issues Papal Encyclical re-affirming the celibacy requirement
  • Bishop Eamonn Casey of Ireland resigns following revelations that he fathered a son
  • The Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico is forced to resign as leader of the Legionaires of Christ following accusations he sexually abused seminarians and fathered several children by at least two women
  • Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles resigns after revealing he is the father of two children
  • Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, later Pope Francis, says priests who father children should resign to support their offspring


After 1500 + years of treating the children of priests and their mothers like dirt on their shoes the Catholic Hierarchy are beginning to move on the question of priest's children.

This movement is to the credit of people like Vincent Doyle and others around the world who have campaigned on this issue.

It is also a credit to the modern media - like the BOSTON GLOBE - who is capable of holding the Catholic Hierarchy to account in ways not possible before.

I have had pastoral experience of helping the women who were pregnant by priests deal with the Hierarchy - and my experience is NOT GOOD!


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Ryan was Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin from 1987 to 2002.

During that time I brought a woman to him who had a baby for one of his priest - a priest he had simply moved from Newbridge Parish to Portlaois Parish.

The woman and I drove in the driving rain on a winter's day to meet Ryan. He sat 15 feet away from us, said nothing, did nothing and never even offered us a cup of tea as the woman wept bitterly in his presence.


In very recent years I referred a woman to Treanor who had been made pregnant by her parish priest - Father Ciaran Dallat.

Treanor would not allow me to accompany the woman to the interview with him.

The woman found him cold and aloof.

Ciaran Dallat had not only made her pregnant but had gone out to dinner with friends KNOWING that the woman was miscarrying the child in her bathroom.

He called in at midnight on his way home to his presbytery.

Since then Treanor has appointed Dallat as chaplain to Maghaberry Prison.

Has Dallat had other women? Other children?

Only God and Treanor know.


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We know how Bishop Eamon Casey treated Annie Murphy and their son Peter.

First denial.

Then attempted adoption.

Then a bribe of £70,000.

Then running away to South America.

Don't be fooled by these "GUIDELINES".

The first thing a bishop will do when a priest fathers a child will be to call in his lawyers to protect Church money from the woman and child.

If a priest father's a child while representing the Church the Church should be financially liable to the woman and child.

But wait and see. Any such help for such a woman or child will be covered by a "gagging" clause and a  "no further liability" clause.

These guys could teach Putin how to suck eggs!