ACP condemns naming of priest under investigation

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has described as “appalling” the naming in Irish newspapers last Monday of a priest who has stepped aside from ministry during a child safeguarding investigation.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic this week, Fr Sean McDonagh of the ACP condemned the naming of the priest and his parish despite no finding of guilt at this point against the cleric. One tabloid paper even ran a photograph of the priest.

“It is appalling that newspapers have revealed this man’s name,” Fr McDonagh said. “It shows again how vulnerable priests are and that you are fair game if you are a priest. How would other professionals be handled?”

Fr McDonagh added that the priest in question is denying completely the allegation made against him, though he pointed out that the public naming, as with other priests, created a scenario where the cleric is “guilty until proved innocent”. He revealed that the priest now under investigation is receiving legal assistance via the ACP. As in previous cases, Fr McDonagh was critical, too, of the ongoing Church practice of immediately removing a priest from ministry when an allegation is made, placing more pressure on a cleric within his parish community.

“It is a very difficult situation,” Fr McDonagh said. “Where does a priest go?”

Sting operation

Fr McDonagh’s words came in a week when three Irishmen were implicated by a children’s charity among thousands worldwide seeking sexual activity with children during an internet sting operation.

Despite the men’s identities being known as a result of traces on their computers and online accounts, making it possible for investigators to find home addresses, their names have not yet appeared in the public domain. Meanwhile, a doctor dismissed amid allegations of a physical assault on a child, has not been publicly named in the media.