Ex-priest loses appeal to pope on dismissal for ‘abusing minors’

Dan Duane (78) already lost two appeals on decision by Canonical Court to dismiss him

A former priest in the Diocese of Cloyne in Co Cork has lost a personal appeal to Pope Francis against his dismissal from the priesthood after the pontiff found a canonical court was right to defrock him for "the crime of abusing minors".

Dan Duane (78) had already lost two appeals against a decision by the Canonical Court in Ireland to dismiss him from the priesthood after it found he had abused five girls while serving as a priest in north Cork in the 1970s and 1980s.

A native of Doneraile in Co Cork, Mr Duane was ordained a priest in 1963 and served in a variety of parishes, as well as at St Colman's College in Fermoy.

He was twice tried at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on counts of sexually abusing teenage girls in north Cork in the early 1980s. He was acquitted on the first occasion in May 2011 on the direction of the trial judge and in November 2011 he was acquitted by a jury.


Third appeal

Last year Mr Duane made a third and personal appeal to Pope Francis after the pope declared 2016 to be A Holy Year of Mercy. However, the pope has confirmed to the Bishop of Cloyne, Dr William Crean, that he agreed with the earlier decision to reject Mr Duane's appeal against dismissal.

A Diocese of Cloyne spokesman told The Irish Times that "Bishop Crean can confirm that he has received the response of Rome to Dan Duane's appeal and there is no change in the judgment that has already been made, that is to say that Dan Duane has been dismissed from the clerical state."

According to the diocesan spokesman, the confirmation by Pope Francis of the earlier decision made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith means Mr Duane cannot present himself as a priest and is prevented from celebrating any of the sacraments.

Impropriety denied

Mr Duane had denied any impropriety at the canonical court hearing held at the Nano Nagle Centre in Killavullen in north Cork, but the three priest judges ruled in March 2013 they were satisfied to a standard of "moral certainty", and found him guilty of the complaints by the five women.

The diocesan spokesman confirmed Bishop Crean wrote to Mr Duane, who continues to live at the presbytery in Cecilstown between Mallow and Kanturk, to inform him that Pope Francis had rejected his personal appeal and agreed with the decision to dismiss him from the priesthood.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times