Cork bishop's removal of priest 'void', says VaticanPatsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent 06/09/2006 The Vatican has dismissed as "null and void, lacking basis in law or in fact" a decision by the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, to remove a priest from ministry for alleged psychological infirmity. The bishop has been instructed to restore Fr James Davern's income "immediately", and to pay him all money due from January 1998 when his income was stopped by Bishop Buckley.
A conservative estimate suggests Fr Davern is now due at least $150,000 from the diocese.
Meanwhile, a priest against whom Fr Davern made sex abuse allegations six years ago continues in ministry in the diocese despite an ongoing Garda investigation and church guidelines which advise that a priest step aside until it is established that allegations are groundless. Fr Davern alleged an incident of violent sex abuse by the priest in 1963 at Farrenferris diocesan college, where he was a pupil.
In January 1998, following some tensions, Fr Davern, who was ill at the time, was ordered to move from Glenville/Watergrasshill in Co Cork where he was a curate to a complex which accommodated priests out of ministry. Fr Davern refused.
His income was stopped and he moved to the family home in Cork city. In 2000, after consultation with a psychiatrist, he made the allegation of sex abuse to Bishop Buckley. In July 2003 he was removed from ministry. In 2003 and 2004 Fr Davern wrote to Pope John Paul detailing his treatment by the bishop.
Following an investigation, and in a decree issued on August 18th last, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy dismissed Bishop Buckley's July 2003 claim of psychological infirmity concerning Fr Davern, and described the diagnosis as "an arbitrary one made by the ordinary "
It referred to findings of a psychiatrist following examinations of Fr Davern, which stated "I find no evidence of any psychiatric/ psychological condition in him, and have to conclude that he is in full health." The congregation said Bishop Buckley had "not presented any medical evidence which would cause this diagnosis to be questioned".
It also said recent statements from Fr Davern's priest peers upheld the psychiatrist's view. It found Bishop Buckley's decree removing Fr Davern contravened canon law, and that he made "no attempt even at summarising the reasons which occasioned the decree". It concluded his decree was "therefore invalid and without any juridic effect as from a null act there are no consequences". While Bishop Buckley was uncontactable last night, a spokesman said: "It is the policy of the diocese not to comment on cases involving individuals or priests unless it is dealing with criminal matters.
Pardon my skepticism, but "pupil" my eye. Kids in kindergarten are pupils. Grown men in college who become involved in a sexual relationship is called consensual sex, not "sexual abuse".