Former priest Horan defrocked by Church

 

The Irish Catholic priest who disrupted the Olympics marathon race has been defrocked by the Catholic Church.

Mr Neil Horan (57), originally from Co Kerry, will no longer be able to call himself Father after he was kicked out of the priesthood by the Catholic Church.

He was told of the decision at a meeting with the Archbishop of Southwark in south London today. Mr Neil Horan dances for journalists before meeting the Archbishop of Southwark this evening
Mr Neil Horan dances for journalists before meeting the Archbishop of Southwark this evening

He become famous for disrupting the men's marathon at the Athens Olympics and dashing onto the track at Silverstone Grand Prix.

Mr Horan, who was dressed in his now customary brown kilt, Irish green waistcoat and green beret said he was stunned by the news. "I completely reject this decision," he said. "I appeal to the much higher court of heaven and the court of Jesus Christ ...  I now cannot preach, I cannot give out communion - I am little more than a pagan."

The former priest from Nunhead, south London, went on: "I feel extremely let down, I have given my life to the church and I feel terrible about how they have handled the whole situation. "I feel it was unchristian and uncatholic."

Earlier Mr Horan arrived at the Archbishop's House armed with press releases and a mini tape recorder. Before going into the meeting he performed an Irish jig and preached the importance of the bible. Kicking his legs in the air, he displayed green satin underpants which he has worn while carrying out all his high publicity stunts. After running on to the track at Silverstone in 2003, he was jailed for two months.

The colourful figure was cleared last October of charges of indecency against a seven-year-old girl in 1991. He had worn the same green underpants when the girl and her mother had visited him at his home.

Mr Horan said he had refused to sign any papers removing him from the priesthood because he did not think his views on the bible were wrong. Holding a battered copy of the bible in one hand, he explained his views on the second coming and said Christ would reign - literally - in Jerusalem for 1,000 years.

But he said his views seemed at odds with those of the Catholic church. "I imagine they think I am an embarrassment to the church... but I don't think so because my beliefs come from the heart. "Let the future generations judge me."

Mr Horan has not worked in a church for the last ten years, saying he was on sabbatical and citing health reasons including depression.

Monsignor Richard Moth, Vicar General of the Southwark diocese, was present at the meeting between Mr Horan and the Archbishop. In a statement, he confirmed that Mr Horan had been laicized from the Catholic church today. He said this meant the former priest could no longer carry out any ritual duties or be a priest in the diocese. "We will continue to have a concern for Neil's wellbeing," he said.