Priests, like doctors, councillors etc, often have to deal with adult men and women who are “vulnerable”.
And therefore its very important that priests do not cross boundaries and become emotionally, sexually or even financially involved with these vulnerable adults.
Adults can be vulnerable for all kinds of reasons – a bereavement, a relationship break up, an unhappy marriage, a loss of employment, a financial crisis or an illness.
As a priest for the past 46 years I have met hundreds or thousands of “broken” people.
My job or vocation is to restore the broken to wholeness.
And it is very important that I do not use their brokenness for anything that benefits myself.
Recently we have been dealing with the case of the Killaloe priest Ger Fitzgerald who crossed boundaries and became emotionally, sexually and financially involved with two women.
When he met Y she was going through a period of intense bereavement after the death of her father and was in a very bad place.
She was not in a proper state of mind to commit to a relationship with a priest.
I know it takes two to tango, but Ger being the “professional” should not have crossed boundaries.
If a doctor had done what Ger did to Y, he would be struck off for life.
And even if the vulnerable person is showing an interest in the professional, the professional must take control and responsibility and back away.
And it was the same with C.
She had newly arrived in a foreign country and was having difficulties in her primary relationship.
Many of the adult victims of priests I have met have gone to the priest initially for pastoral care and “counselling” and the priest initiated a relationship with them – often at the first meeting!
The infamous Fr Michael Cleary did this with a 17 year old woman who went to him with mental health problems and who went on to be a life partner and the mother of his children.
Some priests are like spiders sitting in their web waiting for their next victim to pass by.
Perhaps it’s time that the Government introduced legislation that made clergy apply on a regular basis for a FITNESS TO PRACTICE licence?
Because the RCC in particular is not fit to decide who should practice and who should not.
After all, it’s a matter of public protection.
RETIRED ORATORY PRIEST PASSES AWAY AT 95.
Today, Fr John (95) will be laid to rest today.
He was an English diocesan priest and a seminary lecturer.
He fell in love with a religious sister and he and she did the honourable thing – left and settled down in marriage.
John and his wife came to live in Northern Ireland andived in Bangor.
John joined us in The Oratory and regularly celebrated Mass here.
He was a gentle and very kind man. He was intellectually clever.
Quite a few years ago he completely retired and went to live in Scotland and later the North of England.
Rest in peace, John.
FATHER TED FLANAGAN
We lost Fr Ted Flanagan a couple of years ago in his mid 80s.
Ted was a priest of Clogher who left with Kate, moved to England, had a great career in teaching and music.
Ted returned to priesthood in later life as part of The Oratory and celebrated many weddings etc.