Secrets and Lies

September 24, 2019

It has been an open secret for centuries. Catholic priests fathering children in breach of their vows of celibacy. But like other scandals it has faced, the Church has swept this issue under the carpet.

The children of priests have long suffered in silence and shame, their mothers pressured to keep quiet and keep the secret.

We follow the story of one Australian woman who discovered in middle age who her father was, and who’s determined to find out more.

“I remember thinking I can’t tell anybody. I now have to carry a secret”, she says. “Over a period of time, I realised…I can’t keep the secret and I need to step forward.”

Reporter Lisa Millar heads to Ireland to speak to the man who’s bringing this issue out from the shadows into the light.

From a village west of Dublin, Vincent Doyle, whose father was a priest, is bringing these people together for the first time, helping them find a voice and a pathway to answers.

When Vincent Doyle launched a website for the children of priests, the response revealed the global nature of the problem. Within weeks, his website got hits from 175 countries and he estimates there are ‘ten thousand children of priests, that’s conservative’.

A woman who’s researching the experiences of children of priests found startling similarities between their problems and the problems suffered by victims of sexual abuse.

While the Irish clergy have responded to pressure and come up with guidelines to help it manage the issue, Rome has been slower to react.

Lisa Millar goes to the centre of Catholic power – the Vatican - to find answers. It now acknowledges the problem, but secrecy rules.

“I want the Pope to say the words ‘children of priests’. That’s what I want and that will just be the beginning”, says Vincent Doyle.

Secrets and Lies aired on Foreign Correspondent on ABC TV at 8pm AEST Tuesday 24th September & Friday 27th September 1.30pm. Also on ABC News Channel on Wed 25th September at 5.30am, Saturday 28th at 9.30pm & Sunday 29th September at 5.30pm & iview








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