LETTER TO THE ABBOT OF GLENSTAL:
Dear Abbot Brendan,
I am working on the assumption that you will have heard about the recent resignation of Fr. Richard Purcell the former Abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey, for “personal reasons”
As I [Bishop Pat Buckley] was the source of the allegations against Dom Richard Purcell, I have highlighted my surprise that I was not contacted by the two (2) Dutch-based visitators: Dom Bernardus Peeters, Abbot of Tilburg and Mother Pascale Fourmentin, Abbess of Arnhem, who conducted the Regular Visitation of Mount Melleray Abbey. Amazingly, they found that the allegations against Dom Purcell were “unfounded”. Just imagine that!
For very sound reasons, I have asserted that the “Regular Visitation” was nothing more than a sham to beget an agreed outcome. Regrettably and inexplicably they [the visitators] did not explore the antecedents of Fr. Purcell’s hamartia that brought disgrace to: a) his own abbacy; and, b more seriously to Mount Melleray Abbey.
I have established that you were aware of the allegations that I had made against Dom Richard Purcell. I have further established that you considered them sufficiently serious that you decided to ask Dom Benedict Andersen, OSB, a monk and priest of Silverstream Priory, a monastery of Diocesan Right in the Diocese of Meath, for an exculpatory statement on behalf of Dom Purcell when you were one of the visitators of the Priory.
Is this true? Do you deny this allegation? Because, if you deny this allegation, I can produce evidence to the contrary that shows that you did make this request.
Of course, the question that I am unable to answer (for the moment): is whether you specifically discussed the request to be made of Dom Andersen with Bishop Thomas Deenihan?
And if you did, what was the view of Bishop Deenihan? Was he supportive of the request? After all, Bishop Deenihan is the ultimate superior of Silverstream Priory by virtue of the said priory being an Institute of Diocesan Right. Of course, if you made the request of Dom Andersen unilaterally – were you usurping the authority of Bishop Deenihan for an unjust cause?
As you know, I tend to publish my e-mails on my blog so I am going to proffer the following thoughts. In asking Dom Andersen for an exculpatory statement on behalf of Dom Purcell, you, Abbot Brendan displayed an appalling lack of discretion and a total lack of judgement. I would suggest that you brought the office of Abbot of Glenstal Abbey and the abbey into disrepute, and by extension, you brought the Congregation of the Annunciation into scandal.
Moreover, your actions beget serious questions about safeguarding within Glenstal Abbey School. Because, it is inconceivable and utterly unacceptable that the Benedictine Abbot of Glenstal Abbey that runs one of Ireland’s most prestigious schools would seek an exculpatory statement/affidavit from a monk and priest in a small community of Diocesan Right on behalf of a Cistercian Abbot who had:
a) been credibly accused of intercourse per anum with Neil Dargan within the house of his own monastic profession, Mount St. Joseph Abbey, Roscrea; and,
b) who was spending time in the “The Boilerhouse”, which can only be considered an institution of ill-repute for a monk. And, I write those words as a gay man in a civil partnership.
Furthermore, I also have credible information that strongly suggests you did a hatchet job on the reputation of Dom Cuthbert Madden, OSB, the former Abbot of Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire.
You were one of the visitators of this abbey when allegations of misconduct were made against Dom Madden. We know that Dom Madden was cleared by the police. Of course, this begets the further question: were you the willing henchman of Abbot Christopher Jamison, OSB, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) in the deliberate destruction of Dom Madden’s reputation?
The said Abbot Jamison, who according to an article in The Tablet returned to his duties as the Abbot President of the EBC in 2019 after the police opened an investigation in relation to Abbot Jamison following an allegation of non-recent abuse. Like Dom Madden, the “police found no evidence to support an allegation of historic abuse”.
Nonetheless, it is salutary to highlight that the said same Dom Jamison turned a blind eye, as the Abbot of Worth, to the known and acknowledged sexual misbehaviour of Fr. Andrew Brenninkmeyer, who is still a monk of Worth Abbey. The said Fr. Andrew Brenninkmeyer hails from the wealthy, almost dynastic, Brenninkmeyer family. Dom Jamison continues to ignore the Brenninkmeyer allegations as the Abbot President of the EBC, because Fr. Brenninkmeyer has been permitted to reside outside Worth Abbey and do what he likes with impunity.
Dom Jamison has class and finesse. Unfortunately, being Ennis-born and a former priest of the Diocese of Killaloe does not cut the mustard. Were you seeking to emulate the grandeur of the English Benedictine Congregation and its modus operandi abuse of denial and cover-up, eg, Fort Augustus Abbey, by asking Dom Andersen for an exculpatory statement on behalf Dom Purcell?
This is a legitimate question, because, you are also the monk and priest who gave Dom Kirby a clean bill of health. It can be adduced that you Abbot Coffey confirmed the sexual predator that is Dom Mark Kirby OSB in office (with the connivance of Dom Purcell and Monsignor Gearóid Dullea) as the religious superior (whose life before his arrival in Ireland could be described as anything but moral) of Silverstream Priory, presumably with the explicit written approbation of Bishop Thomas Deenihan.
Abbot Brendan, you are clearly an experienced ecclesiastical fixer. Thus, I am not surprised to see that you were appointed the safeguarding co-ordinator for the Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation, by its Abbot President, Abbot Maksymilian Nawara, OSB. I note with interest that Abbot Nawara is a member of the Permanent Council of the Synod of Abbot Presidents. You have friends in high places.
Abbot Brendan, your demonstrable actions have legitimated the cover-up of sexual misconduct that was objectively gravely scandalous and wholly unacceptable. For the moment, the best-known example of your handiwork is Dom Mark Kirby, OSB, of Silverstream Priory. But, other (as of yet unknown) scandals within the Congregation of the Annunciation may emerge with the passing of time.
In conclusion, I would respectfully submit that you are wholly unsuitable to be the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey. I would further respectfully submit that you need to resign forthwith, because you on-going abbacy is a source of scandal, and it brings Glenstal Abbey and its school into total disrepute.
Abbot Maksymilian Nawara, OSB, Abbot President, Congregation of the Annunciation.
Bishop Thomas Deenihan, Ordinary, Diocese of Meath.