Former Cork priest loses appeal against priesthood dismissal

Vatican found a canonical court was correct in decision to uphold abuse complaints

A former priest in the Diocese of Cloyne has lost his appeal against dismissal from the priesthood after the Vatican found that a canonical court was correct in its decision to uphold complaints by five women that he had abused them when minors.

Dan Duane (76), a native of Doneraile in North Cork, had appealed a decision by the Canonical Court in Ireland in March 2013 to dismiss him from the priesthood on foot of evidence given by five woman that he abused them in North Cork in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Duane had appealed the canonical court ruling to the Apostolic Signatura, which oversees the administration of justice in the church, and to Pope Francis but the church authorities in Rome rejected the appeal after deliberating for several months on all the evidence presented.

Bishop of Cloyne, Dr William Crean yesterday paid tribute to the women who gave evidence to three priest judges of the canonical court in 2010 and 2012 and he apologised to them for the abuse which they had suffered at the hands of Mr Duane.


“We are most grateful to the survivors of abuse who had the courage to come forward to tell their stories. This long and painful process for all involved has now reached completion. We regret that the process took so long.

“On behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese, may I once again extend my deepest sympathy and sorrow that they had to suffer so much from a person in whom they had placed their trust,” said Bishop Crean before re-iterating his apology to the victims.

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 were satisfied to a standard of "moral certainty" and found him guilty of the complaints by the five women.

Yesterday some of the women who gave evidence at the canonical court hearing welcomed the Vatican's dismissal of the appeal by Mr Duane who was twice acquitted of sexual assaults on two girls in two separate trials at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in 2011.

One woman told The Irish Times that she felt a certain disbelief. “There’s a huge sense of relief and vindication. I’m actually quite numb because it’s been such a battle all along the way and now when finally somebody does the right thing, I’m actually shocked.

“The consequences of what he did to us have been huge for all of us – it made our lives very difficult and just because we won today doesn’t mean that those memories are going to be erased – they will stay with us forever like a birth mark.

“But at least now I can say that his church and his peers – and I know many priests were horrified and disgusted over what he did – they have deemed that he doesn’t represent them and he now has to live with the shame and humiliation of that rejection.”

Mr Duane, who was ordained a priest in 1963 and served in a variety of parishes in the diocese as well as at St Colman’s College in Fermoy, had been forbidden from exercising his priestly ministry and from wearing clerical attire since 2006.

The dismissal of Mr Duane from the priesthood is the latest episode in a series of controversies over clerical child sex abuse which dogged the Diocese of Cloyne under Bishop Crean's predecessor, Bishop John Magee who resigned as bishop in 2010.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times