Church probes allegation against Kerry priest in Chile
A TRALEE born missionary has volunteered to step down as director of the Columban Order in Chile pending the outcome of an investigation into claims he had a sexual relationship with two young men in the 1980s.
By Simon Brouder
December 14, 2011
Fr Jeremiah "Derry" Healy stepped down as head of the Columban Fathers missionary society's operation in Chile last May, in line with the standard procedures in the Chilean churches guidelines, after the first of the two men reported the allegation to the society.
In June a second man made similar claims in a declaration presented to the archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello.
Originally from Tralee Fr Healy has been a member of the Columban Order since 1969 and has been working as a missionary in Chile since 1981.
The first man Claudio Ramos said that when he was aged 16 in 1985 Fr Healy offered him space in his house to study as he was unable to do so at home due to family problems.
The second alleged victim Jorge Salas, now Mr Ramos's brother-in-law, said in his declaration to Santiago's archbishop that he met Fr Healy in 1983 when he was 19 years old.
Mr Salas said when he was 23 Fr Healy initiated a sexual relationship with him.
Following the complaints Fr Healy immediately stepped down as the Columban's Director in Chile and removed himself from public ministry pending the outcome of an internal church investigation in Chile.
The Columban order told The Kerryman that Fr Healy's decision to step down from his role and to remove himself from public ministry was a standard procedure as outlined in the Chilean churches guidelines on such matters.
Fr Healy said he intended to fully co-operate with any investigation.
The internal church investigation has been carried out and the results are awaited.
The Columban order confirmed that a complaint has been made to the Chilean civil authorities by Mr Ramos. However the order said that as yet there has been no effort on the part of the Chilean state authorities to contact either the Columban order or Fr Healy himself regarding the complaint.
The regional director of the Columban Fathers in Ireland, Fr Donal Hogan said the order was "very disheartened" when first informed of the allegations against Fr Healy.
However Fr Horan added: "With the permission of our superior general, I accessed his files going back to student years. There was not a hint of any allegation. Everything was very positive in it."
There has been a huge groundswell of support for Fr Healy in his native Tralee following news of the allegations against him. Fr Healy returns to his hometown regularly where he is a popular and well-known figure.