Ex-priest loses Vatican appeal against defrocking for ‘abusing minors’

Bishop of Cloyne says Dan Duane’s final submission to Doctrine of Faith rejected

A former priest in the Diocese of Cloyne has lost his second and final appeal against dismissal from the priesthood after the Vatican found a canonical court was right to defrock him for “the crime of abusing minors”.

Dan Duane (77) had an initial appeal against a decision by the Canonical Court in Ireland to dismiss him from the priesthood rejected in January 2015, He attempted to make second appeal to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in August 2015.

But on Friday Bishop of Cloyne, Dr William Crean confirmed Mr Duane’s submission to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has been rejected and no further appeal can be made in relation to the matter, thus ending the canonical process.

“I can confirm that the judgement of the Canonical Trial to dismiss Dan Duane from the clerical state is upheld,” said Bishop Crean in a statement, adding that Mr Duane is no longer a priest and cannot exercise any form of priestly ministry.


Mr Duane has been living at the presbytery Cecilstown between Mallow and Kanturk since the canonical court made its finding that he abused five girls in North Cork in the 1970s and 1980s.

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 that they were satisfied to a standard of “moral certainty” and found him guilty of the complaints by the five women.

On Friday, Dr Crean re-iterated a tribute to the five women who testified at the canonical court. “I am most grateful to the survivors of abuse who had the courage to come forward to tell their stories. This has been a long and painful process for all involved,” he said.

The survivors welcomed the news that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had refused Mr Duane’s second application to overturn the judgement of the canonical court in March 2013 when it found him guilty of abusing minors in various parishes in north Cork.

“It has been extremely difficult for us awaiting a final confirmation of the verdict in the years since the canonical process began. We have now been assured by the church that there is no further avenue for appeal,” they said in a statement.

A native of Doneraile in North Cork, 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.

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

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times