Bishop Donal McKeown has defended bishops against the Association of Catholic Priests’ (ACP) claims that they are targeting priests, saying that both he and the bishops he knows “are trying to ensure that they do the best for their priests”.
Speaking on Good Morning Ulster alongside ACP priest Fr Roy Donovan, Bishop McKeown responded to claims that priests feel overworked, saying “I think priests are certainly under very significant pressure. What many of them joined 30 or 40 years ago is not the Church that they’re working in today”.
However, Bishop McKeown said “the vast majority of priests” that he’s come across in his own diocese and in Down and Connor where he spent 36 years, “really are prepared to do their damndest, even in challenging and difficult circumstances.
“And the bishops that I would be friendly with are trying to ensure that they do the best for their priests. I’m quite sure there are times when we get it wrong, and I’m sorry for that.”
The ACP also claimed that some bishops have banned gay priests from working in parishes, but did not name any specific diocese or cases of such behaviour.
Responding to this, Bishop McKeown said “All clergy have taken a vow of celibacy. I have no problem with what anyone’s orientation might be – I’m asking people to live a celibate lifestyle, as I try to do myself.
“Orientation is never a problem, never was,” he said, adding, “lifestyle may be”.