Renegade bishop Michael Cox charged a teenage couple — one of them underage — €100 for a ‘sham’ marriage.
At a sitting of Ennis District Children’s Court on Friday evening, the 18-year-old Cork ‘bride’ confirmed in evidence that Bishop Cox had charged €100 for the marriage at Birr, Co Offaly, last month.
Insp Tom Kennedy confirmed to Judge Patrick Durcan that a Garda probe is under way.
The ‘groom’ is a 17-year-old “naive” Co Clare juvenile — the legal age for marriage is 18.
Bishop Cox — who in 1999 ordained singer Sinéad O’Connor a priest in Lourdes — is not a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church but a bishop of the obscure Latin Tridentine Church.
In court, Judge Durcan launched a scathing attack on Bishop Cox’s actions. “Now that I hear from the supposed wife of this boy that money was paid for this service, it is absolutely appalling and brings things to the lowest depths.”
He said that the boy — who cannot be named for legal reasons — was placed under the supervision of the Probation Service.
“Instead of that, the boy at a very young age has been encouraged and facilitated at what he believes is a marriage by a man who calls himself a bishop.
“I want to say loudly and clearly anyone who masquerades as a clergyman and who takes money from young people and imbues in them a mistaken belief that he has married them, is in my view committing the most serious offence,” the judge said.
He added: “Evidence has been outlined in court today in relation to that kind of carry on and the effect it has on young people, and I am saying to you Inspector Kennedy and to the gardaí in Ennis, I would like to see you investigate that man at the earliest possible moment.
“It seems to be that that type of carry on, leaving aside any dimensions of ecclesiastical impropriety, it is certainly is a breach of the criminal law.
“I do think as far as young people are taken in by that type of carry on, it is something that the forces of law and order and the prosecutorial services should take on board urgently and immediately.”
In response, Insp Kennedy said a Garda investigation has begun.
Confirmation of the marriage by Bishop Cox was first made known to the court last Wednesday when a marriage certificate for the young couple was handed into court.
The case of the 17-year-old was adjourned for sentencing to last Friday’s court.
The judge said: “I don’t know who this man Bishop Cox is, but I was presented with what appeared to be a church marriage certificate, signed by a man who signs as a bishop signs. Having taken a lot of interest in the boy over the past year, I was very taken aback to hear that he has got married, particularly bearing in mind the restrictions on getting married that are there and the formalities that have to be gone through.”
During the hearing, the boy’s ‘wife’ told the judge that she didn’t meet Bishop Cox before the wedding.
She said: “I rang him up a few days before. He asked me my age and date of birth and asked to me bring along a photo ID and when we met him, he matched it all to our birth certificates.”
The boy was before the court for a string of offences and Judge Durcan jailed him for 12 months to St Patrick’s Institution. The boy was released on bail pending an appeal.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved