Over the past two-weeks, certain allegations pertaining to Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, the current Abbot and Ordinary of Mount Melleray Abbey have been brought to my attention. These allegations will be addressed in the second part of this correspondence.
In the first part of the present, however, I wish to address the behaviour of a former monk of Glenstal Abbey, Fr. Gregory Collins, OSB, who is now a vicar in the Anglican Diocese of Chichester. The said Gregory Collins, now known as the Rev’d Earl Collins, holds a two-fold appointment in the aforementioned diocese: a) Continual Ministerial Development Officer; and, b) priest-in-charge of St John’s, Palmeira, Square, Hove.
The objectively immoral behaviour of Gregory Collins, while he was a monk of Glenstal Abbey in Rome was at variance in the starkest possible manner to his publicly professed solemn monastic vows as a Benedictine monk of the Congregation of the Annunciation. A Benedictine monk who is Rome-based has shared a sworn affidavit and other documentation that attests to the involvement of Gregory Collins on the gay scene the Eternal City. It is not unreasonable to infer that Collins’ behaviour was known about and ignored with alacrity by certain persons in Sant’ Anselmo. It is my understanding Collins’ behaviour while as an abbot in Jerusalem was brought to the attention of your predecessor in office, Fr. Mark Hederman, OSB.
Was Collins’ behaviour known about and ignored by the abbots of Glenstal Abbey over a number of years? And, before your election as abbot, did you have any knowledge about his active involvement in the “gay scene” in Rome and/or in Jerusalem?
In an affidavit that I have reviewed, reference is made to the known homosexual orientation of Gregory Collins when he was joining the community at Glenstal, and this was viewed as something positive by the then novice master, Fr. Henry O’Shea, OSB. These are observations made by Gregory Collins, himself, in Rome. It is not the unfounded supposition by the scripter of the present; but, information attested to — in a sworn statement.
Does the abovesaid sworn statement indicate that there is something negatively systemic in the formation of novices, juniors, and in the on-going formation of monks at Glenstal Abbey? Since, becoming the Abbot of Glenstal — what steps have you taken to ensure that unsuitable persons are not accepted, and more importantly NOT advanced to solemn monastic profession and ordination the priesthood at Glenstal Abbey?
As the elected office-holder i.e., the Abbot and Ordinary of Glenstal Abbey — did you provide the now Rev’d Collins with any letter(s) of recommendation to the Anglican Diocese of Chichester? And, prior to your election as abbot, did you provide any letter of recommendation in a personal capacity?
Did the previous the elected office-holder i.e., the Abbot and Ordinary of Glenstal Abbey, Fr. Mark Patrick Hederman, OSB — provide the now Rev’d Collins with any letter(s) of recommendation to the Anglican Diocese of Chichester? And, did Fr. Hederman, OSB provide any letter(s) of recommendation in a personal capacity to the Diocese of Chichester?
Did any members of the monastic council at Glenstal Abbey provide letters of recommendation to the Diocese of Chichester about Gregory Collins? Are any of these said members of your monastic council regulated by the Teaching Council of Ireland? Can you imagine the former superiors of Glenstal, eg. Dom Placid Murray, Dom Bernard O’Dea, writing similar letters in support of Gregory Collins?
Were you aware that the Holy See took the view that the behaviour of Gregory Collins in Jerusalem (when it was brought to their attention) was so serious — it potentially brought the reputation of the Holy See into serious disrepute with the state of Israel — should the matter have proceeded to a Canonical Tribunal; Collins, ran the risk of immediate laicisation upon its conclusion? In light of the allegations before the Holy See — would you and the monks in solemn vows with stability at Glenstal have supported Collins’ dismissal from the monastic/clerical states by a Decree of the Holy See?
If the behaviour of Gregory Collins was known about and overlooked at Glenstal Abbey — was it covered-up; if that is indeed the case — objectively, do you consider this raises serious questions about the monastic culture within Glenstal Abbey? In light of what will follow about Richard Purcell, I invite you to think very carefully about this question of a cover-up.
In light of the fact that Glenstal Abbey runs a prestigious school, if past concerns about Gregory Collins were presently highlighted to certain authorities in West Sussex — and all the paperwork (was solicited from the Anglican Diocese of Chichester) pertaining to Gregory Collins was brought into the public domain — do you consider that Glenstal Abbey and its school would emerge in a positive light? Would there be anything contained therein that might have to be referred to Tulsa and/or the Teaching Council of Ireland?
In light of the above, do you consider it unreasonable to suggest that some monks of Glenstal Abbey are morally compromised? This is an entirely legitimate question (although I appreciate you will find it offensive); but it is a suggestion that could be put to you by leading counsel should any of these matters come before the Irish courts) in light of Collins’ behaviour over the years? Have you considered how you might respond to such a question?
Thus, in light of question five (5), does this culture of cover-up/tolerance of morally questionable behaviour potentially now inform the ethos of Glenstal Abbey School?
If donors were aware of the matters surrounding the outrageous behaviour of Gregory Collins – do you consider they would be less likely to make donations to the Glenstal Abbey fundraising initiative imaginatively referred to as “Radiating Peace”? Do you think potential donors should be informed about Collins?
Silverstream Priory/Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO.
Abbot Brendan, please do not be churlish and deny any knowledge about the known sexual activities of Richard Purcell. I have been informed a number of priests in the Diocese of Meath; that you requested from the whistle-blower at Silverstream Priory — a written statement that was exculpatory of Richard Purcell. I KNOW this to be true. This information been further independently confirmed by a second priest; one, with intimate knowledge of the situation at Silverstream and the wider Diocese of Meath.
For this purpose of this e-mail, let me remind you of the allegations. It is alleged that while as the Abbot and the Ordinary of Mount St. Joseph Abbey, the said Dom Richard Purcell, had consensual anal sex with a priest — the then Fr. Xxxx xxxxxx who at that time was incardinated in the Diocese of Killaloe. This priest was considering a vocation to the Cistercian way of life at Roscrea. The said sexual act took place in the monastery guesthouse.
The said Fr.xxxxxx voluntarily spoke about what occurred at the monastery to certain individuals in the Diocese of Killaloe. The act has never been denied; but, it can be legitimately suggested the known behaviour of Richard Purcell was and continues to be covered-up by the previous Bishop of Killaloe, the current Bishop of Killaloe, along with the Bishop of Waterford, and the Abbot General, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO.
The nature of Dom Richard Purcell’s sexual activity can be legitimately characterised as an abuse of abbatial authority. And, that is a very serious matter. Do you agree with this characterisation? If not, why not?
Would you be happy for this allegation/assertion to be put to the whistle-blower by the Charities Regulator? Shall I ask the Regulator to put the question to the whistle-blower? And, are you content for the whistle-blower to give a truthful answer under oath in light of what is addressed within this e-mail? Would the Bishop of Meath; the current Bishop of Waterford; the current Bishop of Killaloe; the current Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, the current Abbot of Mount Melleray, and the current Abbot General of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance be happy with the answer given by the whistle-blower? If not, why not?
Therefore, all my further questions pertaining to the behaviour of Richard Purcell – are directed to you as the Abbot of Glenstal — in light of the fact that you HAD knowledge of the allegations of Purcell’s behaviour. Remember, I did ask you about a culture of cover-up in Glenstal with good reason.
When did you become the useful idiot and patsy of those individuals who wish to keep Purcell’s behaviour, occult? Do you consider that you have brought the office of Abbot of Glenstal Abbey into significant and legitimate disrepute by your behaviour, i.e., soliciting a statement/affidavit that was exculpatory of Purcell? Have you considered resigning? If not, why not? In light of the present correspondence — do you now consider your position to be untenable?
When did you first become aware of the allegations surrounding Purcell? Where you aware of any ecclesiastical concerns about Purcell — while you were a seminarian for the Diocese of Killaloe, and/or as a monk and priest; prior to your election as Abbot and Ordinary of Glenstal Abbey?
Before he left the priesthood, was Fr. Xxxx xxxxxx known to you during your time in the seminary and/or during your time of priestly ministry in the Diocese of Killaloe? You would accept that his character as a priest and as a person is unblemished, and without reproach?
You would further accept without question that Fr. Xxxx xxxxxx was a well-liked priest in the Diocese of Killaloe, who served its people with great pastoral integrity.
Were you aware that Richard Purcell was a frequent visitor to “The Boilerhouse” in Dublin? Are you further aware that an ex-seminarian had consensual anal sex with Richard Purcell in the aforementioned institution? And, the ex-seminarian recognised him from a retreat he had been given by Purcell when he was a student at Maynooth — were you aware of this allegation?
I have established that the allegations surrounding Richard Purcell were known to the previous Bishop of Killaloe, Kieran O’Reilly SMA, who is now the Archbishop and Ordinary of Cashel and Emily; I need not remind you that you are the abbot of a monastery located in the territory that has been assigned to his pastoral governance.
While as the Bishop of Killaloe and now as the Archbishop of Cashel and Emily, did Kieran O’Reilly mention any concerns he might have had about Richard Purcell to you either formally/informally with you as a monk, and as subsequently as the Abbot of Glenstal?
In your judgement, is there any substance to the suggestion that the allegations concerning Richard Purcell are known to the current Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monaghan, and he is keen to keep them suppressed, because he believes it might damage his possibility of becoming the next Archbishop of Tuam? If, he is aware of the allegations, do you consider his behaviour (keeping the allegation suppressed) unacceptable? Would you like to proffer any observation about how long the allegations surrounding Richard Purcell have been known to Bishop Monaghan?
Question Twenty one
If you were asking for a statement of exculpation for Richard Purcell — did you make the allegations pertaining to Purcell, known to the Bishop of Waterford, Alphonsus Cullinan and the Abbot General of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, formerly — the Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey? If not, why not?
Question Twenty two
On Saturday, November 4, 2017, you attended a Mass at Mount Melleray Abbey to invoke God’s Blessing on the New Abbot (Richard Purcell) and his abbatial ministry at Mount Melleray Abbey. This is evidenced by the photographs of the event. The principal celebrant was the Bishop of Waterford. When you concelebrated at this Mass — at that time — did you have personal knowledge of any allegation of past homosexual activity by Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO?
Question Twenty three
The photographs November 4, 2017 at Mount Melleray Abbey evidence that the Mass was attended by the now Archbishop of Cashel, Kieran O’Reilly SMA, previously the Bishop of Killaloe; the current Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, and the bishop emeritus of the diocese, Bishop William Walsh. Did any of these three (3) bishops formally/informally make you aware of any allegation pertaining to Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO on that day and/or any time subsequently?
Question Twenty four
In light of this e-mail, do you now consider that you should write to the Bishop of Waterford, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan as the Abbot of Glenstal respectfully suggesting to the Ordinary of that Diocese that he needs to preventively suspend the priestly faculties (if they have been previously granted) and/or prohibit by a Decree (and publish same), the said Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, from ministering/functioning as a priest anywhere in the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore? And, as the Bishop of Waterford, he should immediately refer these allegations to the competence of the Dicastery that has oversight for Religious in Rome? Do you agree this would be a reasonable, prudent, and proportionate action?
Do you consider that Richard Purcell should resign as the Abbot and Ordinary of Mount Melleray Abbey for the greater good of the church and the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance?
Do you consider your own behaviour and that of Richard Purcell to be a source of legitimate scandal for the church in Ireland, and that both of you should consider your position before God, and resign?
Personally, I think you should resign, because, you, Abbot Brendan, have been gravely and knowingly complicit in a cover-up by attempting to solicit from the whistle-blower at Silverstream Priory — a statement/affidavit of exculpation for Richard Purcell. Do you deny that allegation? Think very carefully about your reply, because I can prove the contrary.
A search of the website of the Charities Regulator reveals the following charities associated with Glenstal: a) Glenstal Abbey Operations (20144586); b) Glenstal Abbey School (20084516), and, c) The Glenstal Abbey Trust (20005283). In light of the present, do you now wish to defend your behaviour — being active and complicit in an on-going cover-up to the Regulator?
Thus, I respectfully suggest that your position as the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey is now untenable particularly in light of the fact it oversees a school. Therefore, I respectfully suggest you resign, immediately.
Obviously, I deeply regret having to write this e-mail, however, not to do so would be to complicit in behaviour that is gravely and morally wrong. This e-mail is been copied to the Bishop of Meath, the Bishop Waterford, the Bishop of Killaloe, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emily, the contact addresses for Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, and the Apostolic Nuncio in Dublin, and to the private e-mail address of the Irish Times journalist, Patsy McGarry.
I am also copying this e-mail to Pat Buckley, who will publish (with my consent) it on his blog. I disagree with Pat Buckley on many issues, however, but we share the view that Mount Melleray Abbey is a holy place sanctified by the prayers of generations of monks, and Richard Purcell should not be the Abbot and Ordinary.
I entirely accept that Pat Buckley is an extremely controversial figure, but many priests are reading his blog, and they are providing information that is shocking; but informative. They are scandalised, and so are many faithful Catholics by the egregious insouciance and callous indifference to Purcell’s behaviour.
Because, Purcell wears a ring, a mitre along with a pectoral cross; is it the view he must-be protected at all costs? And, if Purcell was a monk and/or a priest in the diocese; he would now be suspended facing the ultimate sanction of dismissal from the clerical state – is this a fair summation?
I do not wish to bring these matters formally to the attention of the Charities Regulator; nor do I wish to have to involve other regulatory authorities; however, the on-going inaction and cover-up of Purcell’s behaviour, and your involvement with Glenstal School means a formal referral becomes, sadly, an inevitability.
Respectfully, I remain,
This is a devastating series of questions for Brebdan Coffey.
Coffey, not the brightest of men, has been used by Deenihan, Purcell etc all and he is now left holding the baby.
Coffey is in over his head!
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