Broadcaster and columnist priest tells of pain over Vatican censure

Fr Brian D’Arcy has told of the pain he’s been living with because of his censure by the Vatican.

The broadcaster and newspaper columnist, declared: “Personally I’ve been living with the pain of censure for 14 months and will have to live with it for the rest of my priestly life.

“In these difficult times, it is the price one has to pay when one is committed to the truth, which is the duty of both the priest and the journalist.”

The priest, from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster and who writes a religious column for the Sunday World newspaper, was censured by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Fr D’Arcy, 67, a member of the Passionist Order, has criticised mandatory celibacy for priests. He has also been a fierce critic of the Church’s handling of child abuse scandals in Ireland.

The disciplinary action means he must submit his writings and broadcasts to an official censor.

In a statement yesterday he said: “Personally, I was saddened and disappointed with the contents of the Congregation’s letter but have come to accept that this is the CDF’s way of dealing with issues.

“In the interests of accuracy, however, I need to emphasise that I remain a priest in good standing and that I have continued to carry out my priestly duties with the same dedication as before.

“In 45 years as a journalist, I have never denied the legitimately Defined Doctrines of the Catholic religion. I respect all faiths. Like all dedicated journalists and broadcasters, I check my facts as thoroughly as is humanly possible and if in doubt, I seek expert advice.

“I have continued to write and broadcast since the news of the Vatican’s displeasure was filtered down to me in March 2011. I shall continue my ministry in communication because I believe that the Church cherishes freedom of speech as an inviolable principle.

“Pope Benedict made a fervent plea for freedom of expression on his recent visit to Cuba.

“I believe the church needs credible voices in today’s world as was stated at the conclusion of the recent report of the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland.

“This is why I have given my life to the Church, to the priesthood and to taking my place as a professional in the mass media. I will continue doing so with honestyand integrity.”

Fr D’Arcy is the latest in a number of Irish priests censured by the Vatican. It has caused outrage among liberal Catholics throughout the country as well as many priests.

Fr Peter McVerry who has worked closely with drug addicts and young homeless people on the streets of Dublin for over 30 years said the action was not right.

He added: “It is par for the course, but I find it totally and absolutely unacceptable.”

Canonisation bid

The Catholic priest, whose story was immortalised by an Academy award-winning movie, has been officially declared a servant of God as the cause for his sainthood progresses.

The official process began when the Archbishop of Omaha, Most Reverend George J Lucas, opened the cause for sainthood at the Immaculate Conception Church, the site of Father Flanagan’s tomb at Boys Town.

“The cause for canonisation is officially open and Fr Flanagan has been declared a servant of God,” Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion, said.

“We hope have this first examination of his life, heroic virtue and sanctity completed by 2014.”

The canonisation process to sainthood starts in the archdiocese and goes to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Rome and to the pope. To be canonised a saint, at least two miracles associated with Fr Flanagan must have been performed after his death.

Reverend Steven Boes, national executive director of Boys Town, said in a statement that Fr Flanagan is receiving the recognition he deserves.

“Though the process will be investigating proven miracles associated with Fr Flanagan, we know that miracles occurred every day in his work to heal children in mind, body and spirit,” he said. “These everyday miracles still occur as Boys Town continues Flanagan’s work by saving children today.”

Fr Flanagan, who died in 1948, was known for believing that every child could be a productive citizen if given love, a home, education and a job.

He is quoted as saying: “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

His story was told in the 1938 film, Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy, who won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Fr Flanagan.

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