Policy of Moving Priests Criticised

One in Four [Ireland]
February 13, 2006

The Catholic Church's policy of removing a priest from a parish if there is an allegation of sexual misconduct against him has been criticised by a prominent Redemptorist, Fr Tony Flannery.

Speaking on the eve of the annual solemn novena in Galway cathedral, Fr Flannery said such a procedure was akin to condemning the priest while still innocent until proven guilty. It was also "unfair" that a public statement was made at Mass the weekend after a priest was removed in such circumstances.

Fr Flannery made his comments in the wake of recent instances where priests were asked to step aside in western parishes - and where returning Bishop Eamonn Casey cannot celebrate Mass pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations made against him.

"I know that abuse of children has been perpetrated by some priests and religious. It is important that those people be dealt with and removed from any possibility of causing further harm to children," Fr Flannery said. "What I am concerned about is the procedure that takes place when an allegation is made against a priest."

He said if an allegation is made, and there appears to be no risk to children, that priest should remain in his ministry until the law takes its course.

Lorna Siggins in Galway


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