Ex-Archbishop had ‘no intention’ of leaving priesthood for woman

Irish Times

Mary Carolan

A former Catholic Archbishop has told the High Court he has no recollection of telling a Nigerian woman, when she got engaged in 1995, that he was “not pleased” and she had not “waited for him”.

Richard Burke, a priest of the Kiltegan Fathers since 1975 who also served as a Bishop and later Archbishop in Nigeria until he resigned in 2010, said there was “no intention on my part of leaving the priesthood” and he had no recollection of making those remarks to Dolores Atwood.

He is being cross-examined by Paul O’Higgins SC, for RTÉ, in his continuing action alleging he was defamed in the Prime Time Investigates: Mission to Prey programme broadcast on May 23rd, 2011. He claims the programme wrongly meant he was a paedophile.

Today, Mr O’Higgins said RTÉ denies the programme meant Mr Burke was a paedophile. RTÉ’s defence was the programme meant Mr Burke had sexually molested Ms Atwood when she was a 13-year-old girl and slept with her when she was aged 14, he said.

Under cross-examination, Mr Burke said he had decided in November 2007 to tape calls made to him from Ms Atwood in Canada, where she moved after she married a Canadian national, Chris Atwood in 1995.

He decided to tape the calls because of trauma he experienced after receiving a call on November 7th, 2007 from Ms Atwood during which for the first time, she accused him of being a “paedophile”, he said.

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