Dear Dom Eamon,
In recent days, it has been brought to my attention that you are currently visiting Mount Melleray Abbey. When one looks at “Compline – Night Prayer” for the evening of August 20; one can observe you [Dom Eamon], the Abbot General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance in the choir stalls. Separated from you by a few feet is the current Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, Dom Richard Purcell, who in turn is seated close to Fr. Donal Davis.
It is, of course, always an edifying to see monks in church for the monastic office. To the non-informed outsider this would look perfectly normal; but, it belies an ugly reality; it is, in fact, an act of on-going dissimulation. By this, I mean, your presence at the abbey is akin to the photographs that were circulated of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degallado, the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ with Pope John Paul II. These photographs served a twofold purpose: a) they served as a means of deflecting from Degallado’s well-known sexual misconduct; and, b) they also visually told the world that Fr. Degallado was untouchable.
Dom Eamon, are you telling us that standing beside Dom Purcell in choir that Dom Purcell is untouchable? In doing so, are you attempting to give Dom Purcell, the ecclesiastical approbation that comes from your position as the Abbot General? Because, if that is the inference we are invited to take — it is a strategy that is NOT working, and one that will end in failure.
A more contemporary example might-be instructive. Everybody knew that Cardinal McCarrick was interfering with seminarians — it was an open secret. In the same manner, Richard Purcell is well-known on the Irish gay scene — a reality that you seem incapable to comprehend or unwilling to accept for reasons that remain arcane.
But, gay monks who are sexually active are not a new phenomenon. The former Benedictine Abbot of Monte Cassino, Pietro Vittorelli, OSB, and the Irish-born former Benedictine Abbot of Dormition Abbey (Earl “Gregory” Collins, formerly a monk and priest of Glenstal Abbey) are two recent examples. The rampant homosexuality in monasteries was eloquently demonstrated by St. Peter Damien, Doctor of the Church, in his seminal work, Liber Gomorrhianus, a book that could be argued that serves as a practical guide to the church of today. Hence, I am not highlighting a new reality.
The significance ascribed to office of Abbot General is beautifully reflected within the Constitutions of the Order. Sadly, you now bring that office into disrepute as your presence at Mount Melleray Abbey as the incumbent office-holder is legitimating a cover-up. You are attempting to provide the thinnest possible veneer of credibility to Dom Purcell. In fact, the more I think about it Richard Purcell could be now described as the “Cardinal McCarrick” of the Irish church — everybody knows the ugly reality, but nobody will take responsibility.
However, I invite you to cast your mind back to our conversation on the evening of September 13, 2020, at 6.39 pm, when we spoke for eighteen (18) minutes and thirty-six (36) seconds. Your candour was extraordinary. I suspect this is due to the fact that presumed that you were speaking to bona fide member of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. As I have previously indicated, it would be churlish for you to deny our conversation. And, with the passing of time I suspect you now bitterly regret having being so candid with yours truly.
Nonetheless, you freely and spontaneously acknowledged that the allegations of sexual misconduct that I made against Dom Purcell were in fact, true. It was clear that you and the decision-makers within the Cistercian Order had known about Purcell’s misconduct for a considerable amount of time. Your observation that it was hoped the incident at Roscrea “had been a one off” is a corporate admission of Purcell’s culpability.
One, among the many sexual partners of Dom Purcell at Roscrea (I have learned of others) was an ex-priest of the Diocese of Killaloe, Neil Dargan. You may recall, I mentioned in one of our follow-up e-mails that it was Fr. Dargan who was sexually active with Dom Purcell in Roscrea. Was it Fr. Dargan you were referring to when you made your comment about Dom Purcell? The said, Fr. Neil Dargan, who “encountered” Dom Purcell in Roscrea has acknowledged his sexual relationship with Dom Purcell (in a non-confessional setting) to another priest, who in turn revealed it to me for the greater good of the Irish Cistercians.
You also may-be interested to know that recently I received correspondence indicating that an ex-student of the Cistercian College, recognised Dom Purcell from his attendance at a gay get together (to be charitable) or a gay gang-bang (to be more accurate). It is a small world! And, I do not need to mention to you how notorious Dom Purcell was during his student days at Oxford.
Consequently, the in-action of the Abbot General and his Council about Dom Purcell begets the following legitimate questions. Why have you not asked Dom Purcell to step aside? Have you asked Dom Purcell to resign? Why have you not instituted a canonical investigation into Dom Purcell’s behaviour? Why do you not petition the Holy See for to commence an investigation overseen by a neutral monk from one of the Benedictine Congregations? Why are the Cistercians covering-up for Dom Purcell? Do you consider that the priestly faculties of Dom Purcell to minister within the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore should be preventively suspended by a Decree of the Ordinary of the diocese? Have you and will you bring these allegations to the attention of the diocesan Ordinary? If not; why not?
Have you considered contacting Dom Mauro-Guiseppe Lepori, O. Cist, the Abbot General of the Order of Cistercians of the Common Observance to recommend an abbot to conduct an Apostolic Visitation of Mount Melleray Abbey? After all, an abbot from another Cistercian Congregation would be sympathetic the Cistercian charism. At the time of this writing, we are not aware of any abbot from that congregation who has a proclivity for visiting gay saunas. Would you like me to send an e-mail to Dom Lepori asking on your behalf for some recommendations?
What are you Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, hiding? Is it reasonable to suggest that your on-going in-action about Dom Purcell would appear to an objective outsider that you are somehow morally compromised? And, begets another question — if you institute canonical proceedings against Dom Purcell — is there something potentially nefarious in your past that Dom Purcell might bring into the public domain? Do you fear that Dom Purcell might bring your standing as the Abbot General into disrepute? These are, I submit, legitimate questions; ones that require answers.
Dom Eamon, it is never too late to do the right thing. You now need to act for the greater good of Mount Melleray Abbey, the Irish Cistercians, and the Order across the globe. But, your on-going in-action about these allegations beget two illations: a) you are morally compromised; and, b) incapable of acting decisively by exercising appropriate leadership.
Your failure to act is not conducive to the greater good of Mount Melleray Abbey and for the Cistercians. If for whatever reason you are incapable; it is respectfully suggested that you should immediately resign as Abbot General; because this matter is not going away, and the longer it goes on the worse it is going to get, however, that choice is ultimately, yours.
I am going to conclude this e-mail with a post that was made on my blog on November 5, 2020 at 6.59 pm. It is telling and insightful:
“Remember, when Covid is over, and you meet Abbot Purcell and shake his hand…… Remember, given his proclivity for rawhide barebacking [the practice of having anal intercourse without a condom], that hand is liable also to have been where the sun does not shine, such is the menu card of sexual activities that is on offer in places like the Boilerhouse [a gay sauna in Dublin]. Now, by and large, I could not care what goes on behind closed doors. Each to their own. Other peoples’ business. But, for someone like a Cistercian monk, priest and abbot, with publicly professed vows of chastity and celibacy representing himself as a religious figure who implicitly upholds the RC church’s teaching on sexual morality….well, I think you know what he should do. Simple”
In conclusion, it is my prayer that Mary, the Mother of God and of all Cistercians intercedes for you with the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to do the right thing, finally
- + Pat Buckley.