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EXCLUSIVE Renegade Bishop's funeral plea denied.

The Mirror (UK) August 8, 2006 by MAURICE FITZMAURICE

RENEGADE bishop Pat Buckley has hit out at the Catholic Church after it refused to let him bury his mother.

Devastated Buckley said he was forced to hold a funeral service for the mother-of-17 at Dublin's Unitarian Church on Saturday.

And yesterday he said: "It says a lot about Christian values held by some people when you are not allowed to bury your own mother in a Catholic Church.

"I had written to Cardinal Connell a number of years ago asking if I could celebrate a funeral mass for my mother and he refused.

"But she was buried after a beautiful mass which I officiated at on a beautiful sunny day and there were six to seven hundred people there."

Bishop Buckley said his relationship with the Unitarian Church began nine years ago when he was refused permission to celebrate mass at the funeral of a nephew who had taken his own life.

He added: "It was the same thing back then when my nephew Christopher committed suicide and I was refused a church.

"I even went on the Gay Byrne show appealing for a church and that's how I got in touch with the Unitarians.

"At the time of the letter to Cardinal Connell my mother even wrote to him demanding a meeting at his palace, but he refused a meeting unless I was not present and she wouldn't have that. I am only glad that St Fintan's graveyard in Sutton is owned by the council otherwise I might have run into problems there as well."

Josephine died last Thursday after suffering a stroke and heart attack at the home she shared with Bishop Buckley in Larne, Co Antrim.

The 77-year-old was admitted to Antrim Area Hospital but suffered further complications and passed away with her family by her bedside.

Bishop Buckley, 54, added: "I am only just back from Dublin and now I have to get used to seeing all her things around the house, but not her.

"My brothers and sisters are married of course and have their lives to lead but I had lived with my mother in Larne since she moved here in 1991. Also I was the eldest child and had a certain bond with her so it will be quite hard adjusting."

The controversial cleric, famous for officiating at gay weddings, paid tribute to his mother saying the Carlow-born woman was a huge influence on his life.

He said: "I remember being brought to buy second-hand clothes on Moore Street in Dublin, but no matter how hard things were she was ever the optimist.

Bishop Buckley said his mother was buried surrounded by her favourite things - flowers and jewellery.

He added: "After she moved to Larne I wanted somehow to pay her back for years of sacrifice she made for us all, so I bought her jewellery as all she ever had when we were growing up was her wedding ring."

When contacted about the story the Dublin Archdiocese declined to comment.