Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Why the Vatican’s censure of popular priest is wrong

I wouldn’t presume to tell the Pope how he should go about his business or to advise the Vatican on matters theological.

But I do know that the censuring of Fr Brian D’Arcy the latest Irish priest to be disciplined by Rome (there are now six in total) is not the Church’s savviest move.

And that’s because I know Brian D’Arcy to be one of the finest, most honourable men to walk the planet.

He is a priest who totally, utterly connects with the people he serves. He understands life as it really is — not how church leaders might like it to be.

Man of the people is such an over-used line but in this instance it really does apply.

Brian D’Arcy relates not just to the punters in the pews but to so many people who might not be overly familiar with the inside of a church.

To them he is the human face of an institution which has not always been seen to get its priorities right in recent times.

He’s compassionate, understanding, relevant, popular — all those attributes you’d think might be celebrated by the church to whom he has always been so loyal.

Especially given that he’s also such a great communicator — a fine journalist and broadcaster whose appeal is mass-market.

Yet Brian D’Arcy is being censured for — of all things — his honesty. It doesn’t look good.

And the scale of the current public backlash against the disciplining of Fr Brian is telling in itself.

But does Rome notice? Does Rome care? It should.

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