Cloyne child protection officer quits in bishop row

Bill Meagher: Was designated liaison person for diocese.

The first lay person to assume the position of child protection officer in the Catholic diocese of Cloyne has resigned in a dispute over the handling by Bishop William Crean of the case of defrocked priest Dan Duane.

Bill Meagher, a former HSE social worker who was appointed the designated liaison person for the diocese in 2011, quit his post yesterday after Bishop Crean sought clarification from the Vatican over the position of the former 75-year-old Mallow priest who has continued to celebrate Mass in defiance of the Church ruling.

Mr Duane, who was laicised after being found to have sexually abused minors, had appealed directly to Pope Francis and the Church’s Supreme Court, the Apostolic Signatura, the decision of the Canonical Court in Ireland to dismiss him from the priesthood.

He lost that appeal in January and made a further appeal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department of the Roman Curia formerly known as the Inquisition.

In a statement last night, Bishop Crean said when he learned of the second appeal by Mr Duane he believed that he could take no further action against him until after he had received clarification from the CDF. “This led to Mr Meagher resigning as he did not agree with my position,” said Bishop Crean.

As part of his work, Mr Meagher and his deputy, Fr Patrick Winkle who will now assume the role for 18 months, met Mr Duane in June and was told that he was celebrating Mass privately at his home. He defended his action on the basis of the second appeal.

The bishop added: “I then sought further advice on the matter which confirmed my conviction that no further appeal was possible. I then wrote to the former priest to reiterate that, as he is dismissed from the priesthood, he cannot act as a priest in any manner whatsoever.”

One of Dan Duane’s victims said last night: “A good man has gone down as he could not work with the bishop’s interpretation.”


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