Priests' group critical of bishops


A group representing Catholic priests in Ireland has asked whether some bishops, including the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, “have been complicit in the denigration of priests.”

In a statement welcoming Dr Martin’s comments yesterday on RTÉ’s defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) say they agree with his conclusions that “in the question of media bias, that not all media are tarred with the same brush in the way that priests have been”.

RTÉ’s treatment of Fr Reynolds suggested, it says, that “they were confident that anything could safely be said about a priest in the present climate without fear of repercussions; that the Church authorities would not back him, and that people generally would believe the story”.

The statement claimed Dr Martin had not experienced harassment as the media "generally tended to be happy with what he was saying.

"But the experience of ordinary priests and religious who have spoken on programmes has sometimes been very different. The collateral damage done to priests and religious in general, and to innocent priests in particular, has been significant,” it claimed.

The group claimed that some senior clergy presided over a situation where priests had become demonised in the Church and in society.

“It is one thing to lament the present negative and unjust attitude towards priests in general (as the Amárach/Iona survey has shown), but it is another to preside over, as some bishops have done, a situation where there is a serious lack of care for priests, innocent and guilty, and to effectively demonise them in Church and society.

“Archbishop Martin and other bishops, though thankfully not all, need to demonstrate by their actions rather than their words that priests have rights like every other citizen.

“While we rightly value the systems and structures put in place to safeguard children, bishops need to be aware that their duty of care extends beyond simply implementing guidelines, and showing no concern for the consequences not just to the priests involved, but also to their extended families and parish communities.”