Fr Iggy complaint ‘not malicious’

Relative claims he was misrepresented in media reports

The man who prompted controversy in expressing concerns at a Baptism conducted by Fr Iggy O’Donovan has claimed his actions were not malicious.


Following a report carried in the Irish Independent this week that he had attended the baptismal ceremony with the specific intention of catching Fr O’Donovan in “irregularities”, Charles Byrne claims he had been misrepresented and said his communications with Cardinal Seán Brady on what he believes was an invalid ceremony had been prompted by genuine concern.


Despite claims that he was not related to the family and attended the Baptism “to watch Fr Iggy with a view to reporting any irregularities”, Mr Byrne told The Irish Catholic: “I am a close family member, my sister is the mother of the child.” He added: “I didn’t go there in order to catch Fr Iggy out.”


The row over Fr O’Donovan centres on the allegation that, during the Baptism at the Augustinian church in Drogheda, Co. Louth, the priest allowed the parents to pour water over their baby’s head as part of the ceremony. A portion of video made available to this newspaper by Mr Byrne clearly shows this event taking place.


“This clearly is not valid,” said Byrne, whose letters to Cardinal Brady ultimately resulted in what has been termed a ‘rebaptism’ and drew criticism from the Association of Catholic Priests for the cardinal’s alleged listening to “malicious complaints”.


Mr Byrne insists that he acted in good faith in bringing the ceremony to light.


“The essential issue was that the parents poured the water and the priest said the words,” he said. “My concern is that there may have been tens or even hundreds of invalid baptisms performed by this priest.


“We just don’t know. People have a right to know that their child might not be validly baptised.”