Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

RC Bishop of Waterford & Lismore

November 1, 2021

Solemnity of All the Saints.

Ref: Rt. Rev’d Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO.

Dear Bishop Cullinan,

The present arises from your attendance at: a) Mount Melleray Abbey on September 3, 2021 to celebrate the funeral liturgy of the late Rt. Rev’d Monsignor Michael Olden.


The late priest was an exemplary scholar who is rightly remembered with esteem for his considerable contribution to the Irish Church; b) your attendance at Mount Melleray Abbey to ordain, Fr. John Dineen, OCSO, to the priesthood on September 26, 2021; and, c) the presence of Dom Richard Purcell, as one of the twenty-three (23) priests that laid hands on, and concelebrated the Eucharist, with you, during the ordination to the priesthood of Fr. John McEneaney, at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Waterford on October 24, 2021.

In your homily at Mount Melleray Abbey for the deceased Monsignor Olden, you mentioned that the favourite subject of the late Monsignor Olden was “ecclesiastical history”. In your homily you further stated that you were not present in Mount Melleray Abbey to canonise the deceased priest; however, you could only find good things to recount about his exemplary priestly service. You ascribed to Monsignor Olden the admirable qualities of solidity and tranquillity. And, you further mentioned that he had a sense of “calmness” about him along with “a sense of balance”. You posited that all those qualities were a result of his deep study of church history. 

You further mentioned that Monsignor Olden recognised that the church was always failing from its very beginnings, “because it is made-up of frail human beings, but the power behind the Church propels her forward; and, if we have faith to see things from a supernatural point of view then we can have a solid hope no matter what is happening around us”. I note that one of the chalices used by the late Monsignor Olden was presented, by you, to Fr. John McEneaney before his priestly ordination.

In my limited spare time, I like to read. Some time ago, I came across the doctoral thesis of Christian D. Knudsen in the repository of the University of Toronto. It has a very provocative title: Naughty Nuns and Promiscuous Monks: Monastic Sexual Misconduct in Late Medieval England. I speculate, but I think it would be of legitimate interest to the late Monsignor Olden because it cites a wide variety highly respected academic sources including Dom David Knowles, OSB, a monk and priest of Downside Abbey, who was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge — a Chair he held from 1954 to 1963. Knowles’ corpus of work on the history of English monasticism from the tenth century to the dissolution of the monasteries is encyclopaedic and authoritative. The thesis eloquently demonstrates that sexual misconduct among monastics is a phenomenon as old as monastic life itself; an ugly reality that manifests itself in our own day.

On Friday, June 11, 2021 at 6.11 pm, I sent you an e-mail containing the text of the affidavit that I had sworn earlier that day before Mr. Mark Borland, a Northern Ireland-based Notary Public. I also copied the e-mail to all the members of the Irish episcopate. Thus, all the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops have known about, and have been complicit in the cover-up of the known sexual misconduct of Dom Richard Purcell from that moment. The stated and known sexual misconduct of Dom Richard Purcell has been acknowledged by Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, the Abbot General of the Cistercians. Hence, we are not dealing with something speculative, but with an ugly reality.

So, in light of the above the logical conclusion is that you, Bishop Cullinan, are content with clerical sexual misconduct and by extension any other form of clerical misconduct. You are willing to rehabilitate/undermine the allegations by permitting “problematic clergy” whose misconduct has been acknowledged to concelebrate beside you during a priestly ordination in the cathedral church of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. The vast majority of right-minded people would consider that inexcusable, indefensible, and wholly unacceptable. 

Thus, it is legitimate to ask the following questions:

  1. If he were alive today, would you, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan with a Pontifical Doctorate in Moral Theology concelebrate the Eucharist with the infamous and notorious paedophile Fr. Brendan Smith, O. Praem? It is provocative but legitimate question.
  1. Would you remove the faculties of a priest by Decree that had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a child or would you let them to continue to function as normal? And, that is also legitimate question, because you have not suspended the priestly faculties of Dom Richard Purcell by Decree in your own diocese? 
  1. Would you celebrate publicly the Eucharist with any priest of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct involving a child? 

Sadly, one could be forgiven to think that you, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, will wilfully and deliberately ignore any credible allegation made against a priest in your diocese with alacrity. In light of your past demonstrable behaviour, this is a logical inference to take.

Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore had the moral courage and decency to resign in March 2018, when it came to light that he had knowingly celebrated the Eucharist alongside a priest, Fr. Malachy Finnegan, that he knew was a paedophile fifteen (15) years earlier. I would respectfully submit there is no material difference between you, Bishop Cullinan and Bishop McAreavey, as both of you have deliberately celebrated the Eucharist with a priest that was known to both of you individually (at the time of the celebration of the liturgy) to be a sexual aberrant.  

Would you accept that your moral equivocation about Dom Richard Purcell invalidates your concerns about yoga and mindfulness in addition to your comments about the HPV vaccine? Would you accept that an outsider would legitimately accuse you of being a hypocrite; like the whited sepulchres so vigorously condemned by Christ in the Scriptures? 

Would you further accept those comments were a self-serving attempt to highlight your own status as a bishop (because I am told you are incredibly ambitious). In light of your doctoral thesis, on this desire for advancement, one feels you are being more like “Singer than Wojtila”. But, are you hopeful of translating to the Archdiocese of Tuam? Of course, if you did translate to Tuam, it would be devastating to the incumbent of Killaloe. This much is clear — the great moral crusader is conspicuously quiet about grave wrong-doing in his own diocese.

In a recent correspondence to Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, I included a post that was made in 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”

Is Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, an appropriate person to be administering Holy Communion to the Christifideles of Waterford and Lismore?

As you know, it is my custom to place any letter that I write on my blog, because I believe transparency is good for the church.

This letter is being copied to His Excellency, Archbishop Jude T. Okolo, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the Republic of Ireland, with the request that he forward a copy of same to the Secretariat of State, and for this letter to be placed in your file at the Congregation for Bishops, because you have continuously failed to exercise appropriate pastoral governance for the good of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. I will also request, His Excellency, to forward a copy of the present along with his own observations whatever they may-be to His Eminence, João Card. Bráz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

In conclusion, I respectfully request that you, by Decree, pre-emptively suspend the priestly faculties of Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, to function as a priest anywhere in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore and to notify the Irish Episcopal Conference of the said action in writing, and to publish the said Decree diocesan website.

In Domino,

+ Patrick Buckley.


  1. His Excellency, Archbishop Jude T. Okolo, the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the Republic of Ireland.
  1. Rt. Rev’d, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO, Abbot General, Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance. 
  1. Rt. Rev’d, Michael Ryan, OCSO, Abbot of Bolton Abbey, and Father Immediate of Mount Melleray Abbey.
  1. Ms. Teresa Devlin, Chief Executive Officer, National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.