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Letters to Irish Times, 30 October 2002

Madam, - I am in total agreement with Father Tom Doyle's assertion (Opinion, October 24th) that the Catholic Hierarchy's agenda is to hang on to power at all costs.

When Cardinal Cahal Daly "sacked" me in 1986 because of my liberal views and my willingness to criticise the Church in the media, Father Brendan Smyth was being allowed to minister freely in his diocese and in many other Irish dioceses!

When Cardinal Desmond Connell refused, four years ago, to allow me to celebrate a funeral Mass in any Dublin church for my nephew Christopher, who had committed suicide, hundreds of cases of sexual abuse by priests had been committed and many were known to Cardinal Connell.

Had I been a paedophile, a sacerdotal womaniser, an alcoholic or an embezzler of Church funds, I would still be within the embrace of Canon Law and would still be "on the books" as far as Cardinals Daly and Connell are concerned.

But because I committed the unforgivable canonical sin and challenged the absolute power of which Father Doyle speaks, I have been consigned to the ecclesiastical leper colony these past 16 years!

Like Father Damian, I am very happy to spend my life ministering to my fellow "lepers" - the divorced, the "laicised" priests, the gay community, the cast-aside priests' mistresses, etc.

But can I be forgiven for hoping and praying that our Taoiseach, our Minister for Justice and our Dáil will see to it that Ireland will cease totally to be ruled by Canon Law and that at long last all of us, including priests and bishops, will be equal before the State? -

Yours etc.,

The Oratory Society,
 Co Antrim.