HE Marc A. Card Ouellet, PSS
Prefect. Congregation for Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni
00193 Roma, Piazza Pio XII, 10
1st December 2021
Death of Charles de Foucauld.
Ref: Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, Dioecesis Vaterfordiensis et Lismoriensis.
I write following a situation that has developed in the Irish Church that is a source of great scandal among the Irish clergy and the Christifideles.
It is my understanding that allegations outlined hereinafter were brought to the personal attention of Bishop Cullinan. The matter is explained more fully in my most recent correspondence with the Abbot General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, OCSO. A copy of same is attached for your kind consideration.
Therefore, it can be asserted with a high degree of moral certitude that the Ordinary of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore celebrated the Eucharistic Liturgy with the knowledge and awareness that the then Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, was leading a notorious lifestyle, ie, having unprotected sex in the guesthouse in the house of his monastic profession, Mount St. Joseph of Abbey, (Dioecesis Laoniensis) with an ex-monk of the monastery who was incardinated in to the Diocese of Killaloe. The said ex-priest (Neil Dargan) admitted his sexual relationship with Dom Purcell. The said Dom Richard Purcell, OCSO, was also known to attend a Dublin-based gay sauna known as “The Boilerhouse”. These allegations are an open secret in the Irish Church.
The complicity of Bishop Cullinan in legitimating and by extension covering-up the known sexual misconduct of Abbot Purcell is the last straw for many loyal clergy and Christifideles in Ireland. The Irish Church is facing unprecedented challenges. However, the Irish Church is not assisted by the intemperate and ill-advised outbursts of Bishop Cullinan on matters on which he is not qualified to speak, intelligently. I would respectfully submit that his actions as outlined are a species of the worst form of institutional hypocrisy. And, they add significant credibility to a group of illiberal liberals that seek to remove the patronage of the Church in the majority of Irish schools. Inexplicably, their greatest advocate is now, Bishop Cullinan and his demonstrable Phariseeism.
Respectfully, I would ask you to bring this matter to the personal attention of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has made the proper behaviour of bishops and their exercise of appropriate pastoral governance one of the defining priorities of his papacy.
Finally, I am fully aware of my own irregular position in the eyes of the Holy See; but, I do believe that in the light of Your Eminence’s long and acknowledged experience, you will know that the message is the vital component; the messenger is a secondary consideration. “He who is not against us is with us”.
In light of the above, I denounce Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan to this Dicastery. Most respectfully, I request that an investigation be conducted into the allegations contained herein for the greater good of the Irish Church and by extension the Irish-based Cistercians.
+ Patrick Buckley
His Excellency, Archbishop Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See to the Republic of Ireland.
ENCLOSED RECENT LETTER TO OUTGOING ABBOT GENERAL.
Mount Melleray Abbey “Regular Visitation”/Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan
Dear Dom Eamon,
Firstly, I was very sorry to read that you are dealing with the ill-effects of a serious health condition. And, regardless of whatever view you may have of me – I sincerely wish you all the best as you deal with that reality.
Secondly, you will not be surprised to read that I have serious and legitimate concerns about the recent “Visitation” at Mount Melleray Abbey. As you know with respect to the allegations made against the then Dom Richard Purcell, I acted as the facilitator on behalf of a number of individuals to ventilate and bring into the public domain the completely unacceptable behaviour of Dom Richard Purcell.
Objectively, his behaviour was wholly unacceptable and completely contrary to his freely-embraced vows as a monk and public promises as a Roman Catholic priest. As I have stated, I have no animus towards the now Fr. Purcell. But, not to challenge his behaviour in a public forum would have facilitated an on-going and known cover-up of wholly unacceptable behaviour.
Thirdly, as the source of the allegations made against Fr. Purcell, it is extraordinary and wholly unacceptable that I was not contacted or interviewed by the two Dutch-based visitators: Dom Bernardus Peeters, Abbot of Tilburg and Mother Pascale Fourmentin, Abbess of Arnhem. If, I had been contacted, I would have provided them with the names and contact details of the individuals who alleged sexual activity with the then Dom Purcell. Moreover, Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin might have been interested to hear the content of our conversation.
Fourthly, it is not unreasonable to speculate that Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin did not make contact with the ex-priest Neil Dargan, who was formerly a monk of Mount St. Joseph Abbey and a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe, who confirmed to William Mulvihill, his sexual relationship with Dom Purcell.
With the greatest possible respect to both Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin looking for evidence of Dom Purcell’s misbehaviour within Mount Melleray Abbey was a quixotic and naïve exercise in futility. According to Google Maps the fastest route to the Dublin-based “Boilerhouse” is 205 km from Mount Melleray Abbey. Did Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin visit the Boilerhouse? Because, they were never going to find any evidence of Purcell’s misconduct at Mount Melleray, and their lack of investigation makes a laughing-stock of the visitation and brings the reputation of the Cistercians into significant and legitimate disrepute. It is also a source of scandal.
In light of recent postings on my blog, I have been contacted by an individual who has provided me with important information that based on the preponderance of evidence I believe to be credible. Hence, this information begets the following observations and questions.
I have been informed that a cleric apprised the Ordinary of Waterford and Lismore, Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan about the allegations pertaining to Fr. Richard Purcell at Mount St. Joseph Abbey. I have been further informed that Bishop Cullinan bound that cleric; by invoking his solemn vow of obedience, to silence with respect to what he knew about Dom Richard Purcell. Is this true? Do you, Dom Eamon, have any information that would lend credence to this claim?
Do you know if Bishop Cullinan confronted Dom Richard Purcell about the allegations? If so, did, what was the response of Dom Richard Purcell to Bishop Cullinan?
Did Bishop Cullinan contact you [Dom Eamon Fitzgerald] in your capacity as the Abbot General of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, prior to the installation of Dom Richard Purcell as the Abbot and Ordinary of Mount Melleray Abbey following his election? Did Bishop Cullinan express any concerns about Dom Purcell’s behaviour as the Ordinary of Mount St. Joseph Abbey? If he did, what response did you give to Bishop Cullinan?
Did you give Bishop Cullinan the same naïve assurance that you gave me [Bishop Pat Buckley], namely you believed Purcell’s behaviour was a one-off and that he had been “rehabilitated”?
If this is true, would you accept the assertion that the presence of Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan at the installation of Dom Richard Purcell as the Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey on November 4, 2017 to celebrate a “Mass to invoke God’s blessing on the New Abbot and his Abbatial Ministry” was a cynical and deliberate attempt to deflect attention from Purcell’s known homosexual proclivities and misconduct?
It naturally follows that Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan presided over the installation of Dom Richard Purcell at Mount Melleray Abbey with the full knowledge of Dom Purcell’s known and renowned lust for the Irish and international gay scene. How do you respond to this allegation? Is it a fair approximation of the facts?
The scandal that is the cover-up of Richard Purcell’s behaviour is not going to ameliorate any time soon. And, the sham of the “regular visitation” conducted by Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin has made a very bad situation conspicuously worse. In fact, their so-called “visitation” has begotten more questions than answers.
As ever, because I believe transparency is good for the church, I will post this e-mail on my blog; however, if you reply with answers, and request a not to publish same, I will respect that request.
However, you need to know the people are absolutely INCENSED with real and legitimate anger, at what has happened at Mount Melleray Abbey, and they are even more OUTRAGED, by what was known by the Cistercians, and the cover-up of same.
This e-mail is being copied to Dom Peeters and Mother Fourmentin; they may wish to comment. It is also being copied to the Cardinal Prefect of the competent Dicastery, HE João Card. Bráz de Aviz. In addition, I am also copying same to the Apostolic Nuncio in Dublin, HE Archbishop Okola, he may wish to refer Bishop Cullinan and his objective and grave mishandling of this matter to the Congregation for Bishops for an independent investigation.
The Bishop Emeritus of Dromore, John McAreavey, resigned when it emerged that he knowingly celebrated the Eucharist beside a known paedophile. Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan may wish to resign when it emerges that he knowingly concelebrated beside a known sexual deviant who was masquerading as a monk and priest in good standing with the approbation of his Abbot General, i.e., you, Dom Eamon Fitzgerald.
With an assurance of heart-felt prayers for your speedy recovery, I remain,
+ Pat Buckley.