February 15, 2006

‘Accused priests shouldn’t be removed from parishes’

Galway Independent

Priests accused of abuse allegations should not always be removed from their parishes, while parishioners have a right to a voice in any decision to remove a priest.

That’s according to Galway Novena Co-ordinator Fr Tony Flannery who spoke at the novena on Monday.

In his opening talk, Fr Flannery expressed concern at standard practice for dealing with priests who face allegations. “I know that abuse of children has been perpetrated by some priests and religious. It is important that those people be dealt with and removed from any possibility of causing further harm to children.

“What I am concerned about is the procedure that takes place when an allegation is made against a priest. Irrespective of the seriousness or authenticity of the allegation, the priest is immediately removed from his parish and a public statement is made at Sunday masses the following Sunday.

“This is effectively condemning the priest in public. From then on he is left, often with little or no support, to try to restore his good name. This would not happen with any other profession. Unfortunately priests do not have any union or support group to help them out in this situation,” he said.

Fr Flannery said that removing priests from their parishes is not always appropriate. “If an allegation is made against a priest, perhaps an allegation that goes back 20 years or more, and there appears to be no current ongoing risk to children, then that priest should remain in his ministry until such time as the law takes its course. Furthermore the people of the parish have a right to have a voice in any decision as to whether or not that priest is withdrawn from that cinistry.”

Posted by kshaw at February 15, 2006 10:45 AM