A judge has accused a man who describes himself as a bishop of making a fool of a 17-year-old by pretending that he had married him and taking money from him under false pretences.
At the Children’s Court in Ennis yesterday, Judge Patrick Durcan demanded that gardaí investigate Michael Cox and the circumstances around the marriage of the minor.
Judge Durcan told the court “it is disgraceful that a young man like this is duped into believing that he is married by someone who parades around and calls himself a bishop, but is not a bishop”.
He was responding to the admission by the 17-year old Ennis youth that he was married seven months ago by Mr Cox.
The youth — who cannot be named for legal reasons and was before the court on a trespass charge — confirmed to Judge Durcan that he paid €100 to Mr Cox for the marriage and that he met him only once before the wedding.
He told the judge that he and his wife are expecting their first child in August.
The legal age for marriage in Ireland is 18.
Judge Durcan said: “This is the second example I have come across in this district of young people being duped into marriage by someone who has no function in that regards. It is very, very serious.”
Insp Tom Kennedy said that the demand in December that the first marriage by Mr Cox be investigated “is being dealt with” and confirmed to Judge Durcan that this second marriage will also be investigated.
Mr Cox has previously attracted controversy when he ordained Sinead O’Connor a priest in 1999 in Lourdes. He is not a bishop of the Catholic Church and is instead a bishop of the obscure Latin Tridentine Church.
Addressing the teenager’s mother in court, Judge Durcan said: “I hate to see your son is being made a fool of by this man who pretends to be a bishop, who pretends he has the right to marry and takes money under false pretences from your son.”
He added: “You do know that the State and other organs within the State require that people be prepared for marriage?”
The woman told the court that she wanted her son to wait until he was 18 before marrying — he turns 18 next month.
Judge Durcan said: “This man is not a bishop and he is not entitled to marry anybody.
“The sooner the appropriate authorities take the steps to end this the better. I want that to go out loudly and clearly.”
Addressing the teenager, the judge said: “This man is not a bishop. He is not entitled to marry you so he is Mr Cox, not Bishop Cox. Basically, if you are not property married, that will have severe implications for the status of your marriage, the status of your wife and the status of your baby that she is expecting.”
Judge Durcan adjourned the case for six months remanding the teenager on bail.
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