LEAVING THE PRIESTHOOD – A PERSONAL STORY

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After 20 years as a Catholic priest, Richard Barton is struggling to understand why it took him so long to leave the church.
– By Richard Barton –  Thursday, 15th December 2016

This article is a preview from the Winter 2016 edition of New Humanist. You can find out more and subscribe here.
Last October I left the Roman Catholic priesthood, having served for 20 years in parishes in the counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. It all happened quite suddenly. I saw the bishop on Tuesday and, having celebrated Mass for the last time, handed over the keys of the presbytery to a colleague on Friday morning. On the following Sunday the bishop visited my parishes and informed everyone that I had left “for personal reasons”. The departure was entirely amicable but I have not attended Mass since.
Although I am yet to find a new job, I feel enormously happy. This was the best decision that I have ever taken. For years I have struggled with issues of faith and oscillated from one path to another. Now, at 58, I am passionate about helping to build a free-thinking secular society.
I realised during my teenage years that I am gay. I was fortunate in having had a wonderful best friend and partner for 33 years until his death two years ago. Since then I have met a new partner. I have been drawn into his social circle and we share lots of happiness together.
Surprisingly, perhaps, church was actually a safe space for a gay man. At King’s, London, where I studied theology back in the late 1970s, I immersed myself in an exotic and aesthetic Anglo-Catholic milieu. When I became a Roman Catholic, at the age of 20, life calmed and, eventually, I returned to my native Gloucestershire and joined the local constabulary. The police was not a comfortable place for a gay man in the early 1980s and, in my early days, I was often teased by colleagues. My friends who visited were harshly scrutinised. On one occasion, an inspector warned me that if it became evident that I was a homosexual then I would be dismissed. I showed the necessary discretion and settled in the police force, finishing in 1991 as Community Liaison Officer for the City of Gloucester.
Priestly studies began and, cocooned within the often camp atmosphere of seminary, it was easy to forget the official teaching of the church regarding homosexuality. There were always liberal positions which could be argued when it came to sexual morality and we were, sort of, encouraged to do so. To be quite honest, most seminarians seemed to be far more interested in the niceties of liturgy than worrying about the pastoral dilemmas that they would face, one day, in the big world outside.
For years, in the parishes in which I served, I played down the church’s moral teaching and never really preached about sexual matters. Instead I focused on what I saw to be more important issues such as social justice. If asked directly I might offer a personal opinion, and Confession might often develop into a sort of counselling session. Once or twice I raised my head above the parapet in support of equal marriage but this achieved little. Of course my whole situation, my stance on these issues and my personal relationships, was untenable.
Pope Francis actually brought decision day upon me. For many years during the pontificate of Pope Benedict we didn’t hear too much about sexual moral issues as he seemed to be far more interested in Latin and lace. Suddenly, with cheery Francis, topics long forgotten became the buzz for my congregations. They were urged to say what they thought and to contribute to the big discussion. In turn they sensed change and eagerly entered into the process. I guessed that their hopes would be dashed and I knew that eventually, when the euphoria subsided, reality would hit and I would have to stand in a pulpit and justify to them things that I did not believe in. Fortunately I have some personal financial independence so I was able to say “enough is enough” and I resigned. Many are beginning to realise that there is no real appetite for change behind all those beaming papal smiles.
Gay issues were not the sole reason for me leaving the Roman Catholic Church and ceasing to identify as a Christian. I feel that I owe it to many people to tease out why I have left the church and to attempt to answer the inevitable question – “why has it taken you so long?” It is not my intention to criticise the church in this article or to influence others. I have always been treated generously by my diocese and, particularly, by my bishop.
My parents were not very religious and rarely attended church and because of that neither did I. One Sunday, when I was about eight, a schoolfriend took me to the local Anglican church and I was immediately hooked. From the age of ten or eleven I spoke of wanting to become a vicar. St George’s offered a strong community and I enjoyed playing a part in every aspect of its life, including an evangelical prayer group.
Over the years an ever-widening gap developed between what I later perceived to be biblical fundamentalism and the science that I was taught at school. I stopped going to the prayer group and even church. By the Upper Sixth I had fully returned to the fold. I distanced myself from evangelical biblical fundamentalism and became drawn to the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. From there I leaped into the Roman Catholic Church.
I was ordained in 1995 and began my career as a priest serving in various parishes around the Clifton diocese. I enjoyed pastoral ministry and was encouraged to further my deep interest in church buildings and history. However, within a few years of ordination, I was seriously questioning my faith and oscillating between times of belief and unbelief. The problems did not go away and about ten years ago I felt I needed time to stand back from what I was doing so as to resolve my dilemma once and for all. However, a practical question arose – what would I do if I left this comfortable world where I had received so much love and support from parishioners, colleagues and friends?
After months of discreet enquiry, a local builder offered me a job as a site operative with his respected conservation company. Life on the building site was hard work but fun, at least whilst the sun shone, although I had no obvious craft skills. The men were friendly and encouraging but I found myself still pondering religious questions. After some months I felt drawn to attend Mass again and a return to ministry gradually emerged as the best way forward. Although I would never have admitted it to myself at the time, having set aside my priestly identity I felt exposed. Eventually I saw the bishop and, after jumping through various hoops, I was reinstated.
After a few years, I was once again racked by doubts and uncertainty. I tried to devise a way that would allow me to continue and I turned to the writings of Don Cupitt and tried to adopt a liberal non-realist “Sea of Faith” position, which sees faith as a human creation. Christianity had moulded me, I reasoned, and I needed it not because “God” was real and objective but because this form of spirituality responded to the yearnings that I had over the years developed under its influence. I felt that I could do nothing else but be a priest because, for over 50 years, I had allowed the church to form me into the person that I had become.
We can all criticise the institutional church, yet I would constantly remind myself that at a local level my parish was a unique community of diverse people where young and old could share together, where many cultural differences could be celebrated and moments in our individual stories could be marked and given significance. Through church I had encountered some really lovely people, beautiful liturgies, so much history, fine art, architecture and music. All these facets had enriched my life and my tastes had been nurtured under their shadows. At another level, too, church offered a continual communal response to those who were vulnerable and in need. After all, through ministry I had so many opportunities to help people and to try to walk beside them. I just regretted that I could not be more honest about what I actually thought.
My partner’s death was in many ways the catalyst. He suffered with pancreatic cancer and I found that I could not cope with pious sentiment. God-talk was not what I wanted to hear. My colleagues, bishop included, were hugely supportive during his illness, as were many of the members of my own congregation. Their kindness made it all the more difficult for me to leave when the time came.
As my friend was dying I could not pray in my heart the conventional prayers about healing and heaven. All I could do was try to make some sense of my own thoughts. As he drew his last breath I could not place him in heaven or indulge in all the hopes and fears of most of my Christian brothers and sisters. Yet I also felt I could not undermine the faith of many of my friends and parishioners. Instead I remained silent and chose words cautiously and carefully, often hiding our love for each other. My partner is only alive now in my memories and in those of others. I want to keep that memory alive. But he is dead, he is no more, and no crass words of religious comfort could ever soften that fact.
It was a mistake to continue for so long in Christian ministry and I should have left years and years ago. We are held back by so many nets of our own making – letting people down, potentially missing what we are doing and, of course, our fears for the future. But in the end I should have left.
What of the future? I am trying to be honest with people as to who and what I am. I think that I owe it to people to be more open about being gay and, now, about being a non-believer and secular humanist. I have found support from the local gay and lesbian community in Gloucestershire. I belong to my local Labour party and have joined and supported various LGBT and secular organisations including the British Humanist Association.
Humanist involvement took me to a fascinating conference at Birmingham University focused on the plight of people who are trying to “come out” of faith communities. The courageous campaigner for LGBT rights, Peter Tatchell, and others who suffer for their beliefs, make me feel terribly ashamed. Within the church I have lived a comfortable life and failed to be my true self. Hopefully, this account will help others who are struggling to leave their faith or who are coming out as LGBT. After all, the one life that we each have is far too short to be squandered behind masks of secrecy and dishonesty.

PAT SAYS

I do appreciate Richard Barton’s honesty here.

And, I think he was right to leave the priesthood.

He seems to have had a really comfortable life in Cleric Land. Even his bishop and colleagues knew he was gay and supported him when his partner died. Double standards on behalf of his canon lawyer bishop when he knew one of his priests was living a double life?

I wonder if he ever had a vocation?

Some people have a vocation to priesthood, some people’s mothers have a vocation to have a priest son and others have an obsession to be a priest.

When I think of how hard of us had to struggle to be a priest – and remain in priesthood with the hierarchy and clerics opposing us so forcibly for staying in – Richard had a very easy ride indeed.

He seems to have had a struggle with faith all his life.

At least he is living an honest life now.

When I was three I told my mother I was going to be a priest. I never wanted to be anything else. After 43 years in the priesthood I am more happy in the priesthood that I ever was.

I thank God for my vocation and for helping me to stay going. I could not have done it on my own.

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PENTECOST SUNDAY WATERFORD 1976

 

83 thoughts on “LEAVING THE PRIESTHOOD – A PERSONAL STORY

  1. An interesting story about this man’s journeys. He found much inspiration in his priestly ministry, had wonderful.opportunities, and undoubtedly was shaped by his faith experiences and connections within the Anglican and Catholic churches. He has now moved on to another world view, humanism, and I hope he will find that it will bring him some fulfilment, meaning and purpose. His gay relationship could not survive in a clerical atmosphere but he did the right thing in the end. Leave and find another wirld view and a family of his expectation in the gay community. That’s his story. Good luck to him. I like the gentle way he describes his experiences, the absence of anger, his acknowledgment of good people around him and the joy he now feels. All newfound freedoms but no rancour or angst about his belonging to a church/ faith community. Perhaps these faith journeys were part of the tapestry of his life that led him to move in a different direction. He seems to have survived without scars or hurt. Well done to him. His was a questioning faith – which is a real faith – and it allowed him to ask the really serious questions about life. Hope he finds the deep answers in his humanism.

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    1. Is Christianity simply and only another world view?

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      1. MournemanMichael 17th Jun 2019 — 3:41 pm

        In terms of “explaining” who we are, where we came from, and where we’re going: yes.

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      2. He had an ideal life as a gay priest, but his deepest problem was lack of faith. It’s easy to be a gay priest, but it’s not so for a priest who no longer believes in the basics. Perhaps better theology might have helped him?

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    2. MournemanMichael 17th Jun 2019 — 3:39 pm

      Anon@ 1:20: Your comment, like Richard Burton’s account, is kind, thoughtful and sincere. Thank you.
      I too questioned my cradle catholic beliefs and inevitably moved away. I now regard the beliefs of my former seminary days as unquestioning naivety, and the RC belief system as a farrago psychologically imprinted in childhood, and subsequently maintained by practical and emotional chains.
      As a Humanist, there is a wonderful freedom in accepting that this life is all there is, not a dress rehearsal.
      And, as I’ve said here before: good without God.
      MMM

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      1. MMM, thank you for answering. I don’t agree. Christianity is not simply a belief system.
        Ultimately, for me, Christianity is an encounter/ intimate relationship with Jesus Christ,
        nurtured in time, through prayer, sacraments, scripture and the Holy Spirit. It’s lived out in
        the power of the Holy Spirit daily. It’s not simply a matter of theory, theology and book knowledge,
        infantile or otherwise. The farrago, as you put it, can be untangled, just as psycho/emotional damaging
        imprinting, through poor parenting, can be unknotted. Goodness comes from God, regardless.

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      2. I’ve yet to meet a moral atheist.

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  2. I’m in agreement with you, + Pat. At least the man was honest with himself. Better late than never. I’m not sure why he ever entered the seminary or why he decided to leave, other than struggling with issues of faith.There are a few pointers as to why he might have remained in priesthood for so long, such as church being a safe place for a gay man, the often camp atmosphere of seminary, his life enriched through catholic culture, the social support, care, and long term relationship with his partner, plus the support of his bishop and colleagues, and parishoners. Practical considerations were not an issue. This man might have been better off training to be a social worker or counsellor, or community worker, rather than opting for priesthood. Living a comfortable life, from a false self, is probably common enough among clergy. Existential dissonance, eventually bites.
    Life is not a dress rehearsal.

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  3. The key phrase is “personal financial independence”. There is many the poor devil stuck in a parish and the priesthood because they are dependent.

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    1. True.

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  4. He was living a double life, he is happier now living one. Let him live it. The priesthood is no place for a man like him and he came to the correct decision.
    Pat maybe the men in the seminaries today could take a leaf from him.

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    1. But Jack, isn’t a double life double the fun!
      Isn’t that why we double up an’ double over?

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  5. Did he go to Alice hall? Was he with Queen Alan Hopes in Kings. Says a lot

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    1. Why would a Catholic study theology in KCL? It’s pure Prod. This man hijacked priesthood and got a good living out of it, him and his boyfriend and it’s a disgrace that the Bishop of Clifton and his VG put up with this mockery.

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      1. 9.41 read the article again. He became a Catholic at the age of 20.

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      2. Well said and the VG and Bishop is a disgrace.

        This guy and his BF was having a great life and the poor widows mite was keeping him in that style.

        It is a disgrace and I hope the bishop and his VG have retired with disgrace.

        Thankfully if there is PROOF then the current Bishops would not allow this to continue and certainly the Papal Nuncio is Ireland would stop it as well.

        Sadly England, Wales and Scotland has weak Papal Nuncios the last one shipped out and not heard of again and thankfully the current week one goes in 8 weeks and hopefully his successor will be strong.

        The dioceses in Scotland has too many spongers c/o diocesan offices they should be OUT but they hang on for the security of accommodation and money shame on the current parasites and bishops it is the laity that pays for it all.

        Hope this guy likes the humanist wont be long till he is ripping people of doing weddings and funerals as they are very expensive no charity there.

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      3. And how many more, have hijacked priesthood? Isn’t that part of the current mess!

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      4. 11:34 a.m. Illiterate, gay Irishman living in Scotland who recommends writing to nuncios and interferes in others’ sexual lives alert.

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  6. He’s a charlatan, a liar and a sponger. He never had a vocation.

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    1. How are ye girls

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    2. Troll

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      1. How the hell is it possible to be an openly gay, athiest man with a live-in lover, known to the Bishop of Clifton and VG and be in ministry for decades. It’s the atheism thing which gets me. What a fraud.

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    3. He wouldn’t be alone not having a vocation but ordained.

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      1. E.g. Fr Michael Hand of Clogher Diocese.

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  7. Strange article for today. This guy had the best of many worlds: he knew he had faith difficulties; knew he was gay and lived in an open relationship with the knowledge of his superiors; (bizarre); now he has moved on to humanism. It won’t be long till he discovers the limitations and emptiness of this “ism” too!! But he has the capacity to recreate himself in a lot of new ways and undoubtedly he’ll become a civil celebrant for naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals….and will make a fortune as their fees are exorbitant, though he seems to be financially secure. I don’t have any sympathy for him as he seems to “know” what he’s doing and what he wants, for now! Maybe Buddhism will be his next adventure. It’s not an exciting blog today…..This event happened a few years ago.

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    1. Does it particularly matter it happened a few years ago.
      This is not happening nowadays, is that what you’re suggeting,
      or there’s no other forms of hijacking of priesthood?

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  8. Bishop Len and The Craggy Crew with special guest artist, Fr. Finbar.- Whatever You Believe. 17th Jun 2019 — 1:00 pm

    If I told you today there’s a god living on the moon
    You wouldn’t have to believe a word I say
    You would always have the right to think I’m crazy
    And if I choose to pray that the pain will be over soon
    Nobody else in the world can take away
    What I think and what I feel
    No one can sway me

    Refrain:
    Whatever you believe, whatever love, whatever planet rules your heart
    I won’t try to make it fall apart
    Whatever makes you strong, whatever lines you choose to live your life along
    I will never say your right or wrong
    Even if I don’t believe whatever you believe

    What happens when you’re sure that I’m wrong and you know you’re right
    You think you’ve found what we’ve all been searching for
    And you want to change the world around to spite me

    2x Refrain.

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  9. If this guy had to work in the real world for any length of time, support a family or put food on the table, then perhaps he might have some idea of sheer hypocrisy of his lifestyle. The same can be said of many clerics hiding behind collars and engaging in a homosexuality subculture contrary to the life of Christ. Too easy, too often and no sacrifice. Pathetic.

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    1. Very true.
      If clerics had children of their own they might have a very very different attitude to child rape and it’s cover up.

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      1. Its

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  10. Lots of nasty, small minded, embittered commentary on here today !

    Actually, I think this guy was probably a very good priest, and in other circumstances where the priesthood had not been made in to some sort of exclusive, self-denying, dysfunctional and odd way of being, he probably would still be a priest. It sounds to me as though he has all the gifts of a good priest, sensitivity, warmth, love, compassion etc., but was worn down by the way priesthood as professed by the Church is something that is disabling. So, no wonder he has moved on.

    I have to say that he sounds to me as though he is able to move on because he is financially independent and has options. Oh, how many priests do I know who would love to have that option, but sadly do not because of the way priesthood is constructed so that it is almost impossible to have the financial independence of savings and pension in order to be able to make an autonomous decision ? Instead, most priests are shackled to their life in a kind of medieval feudal way where they have to rely on the goodness and patronage of bishops. It is pretty infantalising, and just one aspect of the hobbling that the priesthood does to so many priests.

    I note that it is being reported In The Tablet that the Amazon Synod will discuss ordaining indigenous mature married men to the priesthood in order that people are able to avail of the sacraments, rather than being deprived until a visiting priests visits irregularly. There is mention of rather than having a Church that visits, it would have a Church that is present, and that the community is not there for the minister, but the minister is there for the community. So, at least some people seem to be thinking of new ways of priesthood, instead of more of the same broken and dysfunctional priesthood that has led our Church in to such a state as it finds itself now.

    I wish this priest featured in the blog well, and thank him for the years of service he has given. It is begrudging of so many to criticize him, to see him as having failed, and as being spoiled goods. That’s small minded and embittered. Another cast off of the way we view priesthood, and another sign of the malaise and underlying dysfunction of priesthood

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    1. MournemanMichael 17th Jun 2019 — 4:31 pm

      Excellent sensitive comments @ 3:20. Thank you.
      MMM

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      1. Richard Barton, sounds very narcissistic.My honest opinion, based on the article.
        Some of us, who are not under the LGBTQ umberella, have also suffered greatly for our beliefs.

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      2. MournemanMichael 19th Jun 2019 — 9:09 pm

        As Anon’ comment @ 9:51 has no direct reply facility can I suggest he/she scrolls back to find a recent blog indicating no disparity in terms of morality between religious believers and atheists.
        But if that’s too much effort perhaps getting out more might address his lack.
        MMM

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    2. I met a Congregationalist today and he had the courage of his convictions and wasn’t a pretend Catholic.

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  11. Pat – why do we never hear anything about the partners of priests? Often this is the most important form of support priests receive.

    And why are you persisting with this superstitious notion of ‘vocation’! No one is ‘called’ to be a priest. It’s just what people fall into. It’s not a calling. Some people are more suited to it than others. Some do a good job, others not. The idea that God has an idea in his mind concerning exactly how each person must live his life is theologically rotten and continues to cause a lot of damage.

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    1. For those of us who believe the notion of vocation is legetimate. If we have a personal relationship with God we believe that he has a plan for our life and we eant to cooperate with that plan. We Christians believe that ministry is a vocation, as is marriage etc.Anything one does, not purely for pay, is vocational – nursing, caring, etc?

      Im sure I could have made a lot more money in law, banking etc?

      I do what I do because I love doing it.

      Of courss I need an income, butbits not my primary motive.

      And of course I disapprove of those clerics who think they are superior and have a sense of entitlement.

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    2. 4:28 pm ‘O ye of little faith.’

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      1. You’re right, I do have little faith – little superstitious faith in the musical director God who has cast everyone in a specific role in the great musical of life, and woe betide the person who’s singing the wrong part! More infantile theology from infantile clerics.
        No one is ‘called’ to ministry. That’s just the flowery way of saying ‘I like being/want to be a priest’. Plenty of people who claim to be ‘called’ are terrible priests; plenty of people who don’t feel ‘called’ would make good priests.

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    3. People fall into the priesthood! Well my, God!
      A 6 or 7 year fall. One of the longest falls in the history of falling.
      Are the seminary lecturers and professors fast asleep.

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      1. MournemanMichael 18th Jun 2019 — 12:07 pm

        Anon@6:16: You clearly fail to understand the symbolic use of the word “fall.”
        You appear not to have followed the regular narrative in this blog site of the factors influencing altruistic but inexperienced young men towards the priesthood, and how difficult it may have been for some of them to leave before ordination, or to cease ministry post ordination.
        Keep following the blog site and think carefully about what you read. Don’t ‘fall’ into the trap of hasty judgement based solely on your own experience. Best regards.
        MMM

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    4. You sound like a Protestant.

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      1. Fly on Th Wall 18th Jun 2019 — 8:44 pm

        9.45Hi just a thought Was Jesus a Jewish Protestant

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      2. 12;07pm
        MMM.
        Baloney! Nonsense! Ridiculous!
        You clearly fail to answer the obvious. They spend 6 or 7 years in seminary doing what?
        Walking around in Camp Seminary in a catatonic state with their catatonic professors? No discussions, no spiritual direction? No developing of self awareness ? Drifters? Self honesty goes a long way.
        Think carefully, what you write, and stop promoting a daft narrative to excuse promiscuous corruption in the priesthood.

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  12. 3:20pm
    Seems to me your reading of the article featured is a little myopic.
    The man had gifts many good human beings might possess.
    They’re not exclusive to the priesthood.
    What he seemed to lack was authentic faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel message.
    For those who do wish to move on out of the priesthood, there’s plenty
    of part time professional courses available.

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    1. 8:44pm
      Hi fly.
      Jesus was a mystic. The mystics, mystic.
      Bye fly hi.

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  13. Pat, you have set me free to roam around.

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    1. Roam around where?

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      1. The Giant’s Ring… car park.

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  14. Anonymous Angelicus 17th Jun 2019 — 5:40 pm

    There’s a good online article by Catherine Giordano titled Atheists in the Pulpit: Clergy Who Are Non- Believers.
    The Clergy Project, an online community, provides support to current or former clergy members, from many countries around the world. www. clergyproject.org.

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    1. MournemanMichael 17th Jun 2019 — 7:26 pm

      Angelicus I’ve commented before on what I believe to be a very large number of clerics who are non believers. I think they must be, for how else can one reasonably explain the large numbers of abusing clerics being revealed worldwide? Regular long standing grievous abuse by clerics can not be explained simply as ‘occasional lapses’ caused by ‘weakness of the flesh.’
      MMM

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      1. Anonymous Angelicus 17th Jun 2019 — 9:04 pm

        MMM, both atheists and agnostics, might be more accurate. I fully agree.
        But lets not forget, the many dedicated, committed and faithful priests, who believe in the Lord,
        the gospel vision, message and mission.

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      2. 7:26
        MMM – An absolutely disgraceful comment to link a crisis of faith to pedophilia and sexual abuse of children. If such argumentation is an indication of the type of social worker you were, is it any wonder that your profession was castigated on this site in the way it was in recent days.
        You are the man who despised the education he received in Ireland and who was fulsome in his account of the great education he was given in the UK.
        Some evidence of an educated mindset!

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  15. Richard tells his story with kindness and without knocking the Church. Good luck to him: I wish him well. Perhaps the bigger question is why his diocese seemingly supported him and turned a blind eye prior to his decision to leave.

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  16. 5.40: I’ve just read the statement and ethos if the Clergy Project. It seems to me to be a great forum for any religious person who has lost “faith” to engage with likeminded people, all from different faith traditions, which must make the project worthwhile and interesting. It would be interesting to know the commonality of factors which brings a once faith/religious person to a place of non belief. For those of us who struggle with contemporary experiences of priesthood with its dysfunctionality in a myriad of ways, we urgently need new thinking, new understanding, new vision and a deep heart searching so that we have a relevance in a multi cultural and pluralist/secular society. Presently, I see my role as being consigned more and more to simply presiding at rituals and the Celebration of the Eucharist, all of whuch I find meaningful and worthwhile. We no longer have the same trusting connections with parishioners who often relied on us for organising community gatherings and activities. After many such moments which I initiated prior to the last 3 years over a period of 7 years, and which were well supported and attended, I thought it was time again to do something similar as we had a special moment of the 35th anniversary of the parish. I asked over a 6 month period for ideas, suggestions, and for volunteers so that we could do something meaningful. Not one suggestion or idea was given nor did any one volunteer to steer up a committee. That experience last year had a very negative impact on me. It highlights the quickly changing nature of priest/parishioner relationship and suggests to me that many people have simply decided to find their own way spiritually or have just drifted from their faith anfvthat those who are still with us aren’t always appreciative of opportunities or challenges or are often not concerned abiut their parish. These kinds of experiences can disillusion many a priest along with many other factors. Now I concentrate on the essentials but at almost 70 years of age and with reduced energy levels, I have often thought of just packing it all in. Sadly, there is no forum for priests to be honest and open about such matters. The concept of priesthood/service in Jesus’ name is relevant for me; the church community of faith and prayer are also relevant for me but it is more difficult than ever to sustain “faith” in the present expression of priesthood and service within a parish community.

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    1. Anonymous Angelicus 17th Jun 2019 — 9:17 pm

      With respect, I suggest, to remain grounded in the Lord. I think you are right. new thinking, understanding, creative and imaginative initiatives need to be developed. What about creating an online forum or support group for like minded colleagues, where pooling of new ideas could take place, in safety. Just a suggestion.

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  17. Doubting Thomas 17th Jun 2019 — 9:28 pm

    Inspector Hamish McTaggert, in bonnie Scotland, produce the documents and photographic evidence you claim to possess and I’ll doubt no longer but believe.

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  18. Sure isn’t humanist religious without a R hi. Did Fr Barton have a vocation. Well his actions smell of vocation It’s just the sexuality thing again. It’s a pity in this day and age so many good people are choked by stupid outdated mentality that has nothing to do with holiness Jesus or God hi

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  19. He’s had his cake and eaten it, Bp Pat. KOB was the same.

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  20. Good Nite fly hi.
    Maybe Richard B is a christian Humanist.
    The Church is a prisoner of the past stuck in the present weighted down by excess baggage preventing it from moving freely forward into the future. Celibacys like a handcuff strapping people to the past while ensuring people remain beholden to the company in the present. New policies practices and procedures wouldn’t go astray. The company needs to bring out things old and new for renewal and reform instead of recycling the worn out same old same old.
    Nite Nite fly hi.

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    1. Fly on Th Wall. 17th Jun 2019 — 11:54 pm

      Pat, Magwa has me destroyed this nite the wee hoor but hi. Insatiable hi but.

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  21. Pat,
    Elsie has me destroyed in this caravan the wee hoor.
    Any updates?
    Carmel.

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    1. Prepare her for the white.

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  22. +Pat I don’t mind telling you that Dermot Lang was the Bishop of Clifton when I offered myself as a sem back in 1990. I had no knowledge of England or Bristol yet Dermot accepted me.

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    1. Chilfton

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    2. Declan Lang was not the bishop of Clifton in 1990……please get your facts right.

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    3. He sent me to the English College.

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    4. They were so hard up, even back then.

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  23. MournemanMichael 18th Jun 2019 — 8:50 am

    Shame on you Anon @ 5:33. Don’t you understand that our great Musical Director God is very busy keeping an eye on all the activities of the other billion stars, planets and their possible inhabitants in our own known universe: and that’s only OUR universe never mind all the other countless ones science is discovering! So it’s little wonder He takes His eye off we puny earthlings from time to time, and that’s really the reason why we occasionally mess up His wonderful symphony of life.
    Aw but sure it will all be right in the end for when the final crescendo rolls the drums and the trumpets sound, nobody notices the odd bum note. I know about these things!
    MMM

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    1. Your great ‘Musical Director God’, sounds more like an out of tune, off key, Social Worker !

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      1. MournemanMichael 19th Jun 2019 — 10:08 am

        Anon 6:32: Is your comment yet another example of the misguided public perception that it’s down to social workers to sort out and remedy the foul ups of everybody else? Seems like it!
        MMM

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  24. MournemanMichael 18th Jun 2019 — 11:54 am

    Anon @ 9:10: Rather than waste your time in an ad hominem rant adding nothing to the debate , I’d much appreciate your explanation for the constant stream of revelations concerning clerics who have regularly, seriously, and over many years sexually abused innocent vulnerable children. How many “crises of faith” were involved?
    “Crisis of faith”: as somebody recently quoted Judge Judy here: “That’s baloney!”
    MMM

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    1. 11:54 On the basis of the fundamental fallacy of linking a decision about faith to pedophilia, put forward by you, you should never have been employed as a social worker in any capacity whatsoever. It’s no surprise to see how almost universally despised a once noble and altruistic profession has become and how endemically demoralised social workers have become.

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    2. 11.54: MMM: I’m not sure why you you are putting forward a theory that non belief is a prime cause of clerical sexual abuse. Where is the empirical evidence of the correlation between abuse and non belief? Give us the references for validated fact, analysis and research. I would just like to know where to find such evidence.

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    3. MMM @ 10:08 am

      No.
      Social Work profession
      needs to sort out, clean up, and remedy their own foul ups, before arrogantly assuming the competence to sort out
      anyone or anything.
      Public perception of social work may not be as misguided, as you might wish to believe, hence your defensiveness.

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  25. MMM – I’d like you to show researched, empirical evidence to validate ‘your’ theory of 7.26 yesterday evening, claiming that worldwide clerical abuse is a result of non belief in clerics? It can be argued if any person is fully and truly aligned and united with CHRIST, HE/SHE MIGHT NOT EVER BE ABUSIVE IN ANY WAY. That is far too simplistic. I trust the psychologists/psychoanalysts and medical academics in their explanations than your rather simplistic theory. A disconnect from the responsibilities and deep awareness of a Christian way of life may have some bearing but I trust the professionals who have clinically researched this crisis of clerical sexual abuse. So, if you have relevant empirical evidence of your theory, please give the academic references.

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    1. MournemanMichael 18th Jun 2019 — 1:00 pm

      Anon @ 12:07: I have not propounded a theory. The word ‘theory’ is yours.
      I have put forward a supposition for consideration. Do you understand the difference? I await some reasonable and sensible explanation for the actions of large numbers of abusing clerics who supposedly believe in a supreme God and follow codes of conduct mandated by that belief.
      Should you wish for figures of non believing clerics you might find the article Angelicus referred to above, by Catherine Giordano, “Atheists in the Pulpit etc” quite helpful.
      MMM

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      1. At 1:00 p.m. The word you are looking for is hypothesis. It’s surprising you haven’t encountered it in your experience of higher education in the UK.
        More serious than the minor issue of a word is the outrageous fallacy you have engaged in around paedophilia and the sexual abuse of children. You are not sure why this has been so widespread in the church and in your search for a single answer you hit upon the phenomenon of individuals who once were people of faith and who have experienced difficulties with faith. And you then identify a loss of faith as the cause for child sexual abuse.
        Is this how social workers normally operate? Is this the marvellous higher education you received in the UK which, if memory serves me correctly, you very favourably compare with the mediocre primary and second-level education you endured in Ireland?

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  26. 1.00: MMN : Think you are the confused one. You’re supposition for consideration is not relevant for proving any correlation between abuse and non belief. The article referred to about Clergy Project only speaks about clerics of all faiths who have left their positions having arrived at a place of non belief. There is no reference to any cleric of non belief having engaged in sexual abuse. Abuse is an offence carried out by people of all kinds of dispositions, emotional, mental, spiritual etc….Evil is not the preserve of people of “belief” or “non belief”. Evil can be carried out by any person…..QED…

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    1. MournemanMichael 18th Jun 2019 — 11:22 pm

      Indeed I agree with what you say: that evil can be caused by any person, a believer or otherwise. But I have NOT said that unbelief “causes” abuse. You and others appear to wilfully misconstrue that from what I consistently ask, ie ” how is it possible to understand the actions of clerics who have regularly, grievously, and over an extended period abused innocent children notwithstanding their professed public belief in a supreme God and adherence to His moral/religious prescriptions?”
      The only reasonable explanation for me is that the abusers have ‘set aside’ (in their private life and actions in relation to their sexual impropriety ) their previous religious beliefs. I cannot think of such abusive clerics as bona fide believers.
      I have NOT made any causative connection between unbelief and abusive behaviour.
      MMM

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  27. MMM – Are you gone to ground? Answer relevant questions put to you re: correlation between non belief and abuse! Give us the empirical evidence, if such exists. If it’s a ‘consideration’ you promulgate, can you be more rigorous and intelligent in your responses and cogent arguments than your flippancy and smug arrogance. Could we not say atheism is a cause of abuse since non belief is atheism or humanism or whatever you’re having yourself!!!!!

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