The UNCRC, The Irish Government & Children of Irish Priests.
33. The Committee is concerned about (b) the Lack of measures to ensure that children fathered by Catholic priests are able to access information on the identity of their fathers; 34. The Committee recommends that the State party (b) Ensure measures to assist children fathered by Catholic priests in upholding their right to know and be cared for by their fathers, as appropriate, and ensure that they receive the necessary psychological treatment.
126. The Irish state recognises the right of all children to private and family life. There is no impediment in Irish law or policy to prevent Catholic priests who father children caring for their children. However, the state has no power to compel any person to care for a child. 127. In 2017, the Irish Episcopal Conference approved the Principles of Responsibility Regarding Priests who Father Children While in Ministry, stating that if a priest fathers a child, the well-being of his child should be his first consideration. The document states that priests in this situation need to discharge their responsibilities and give due consideration to the best interests of the child, civil and canon law, and the views of the mother. 128. Access to psychological support is through the HSE primary care services and community mental health teams. There is limited free-at-point-of-service psychological support available in Ireland, including a national Childhood Abuse or Neglect service for adults.
15. The Committee recommends that the State party: (d) Strengthen measures to eliminate discrimination against […] children of Catholic priests,[…], and […] where appropriate, ensure their access to adequate accommodation, health care, education and a decent standard of living, and ensure regular and systematic monitoring and impact assessments of the measures taken.
“In order to ascertain the scope of the number of children that may be impacted by this issue, my Department has written to each male Catholic religious congregation in Ireland to ask that they advise if they [are] aware of any current member who has declared himself the father of a dependent child/children. Replies are still coming in from the congregations, and the next steps will be informed by the responses received. To date, 17 responses have been received and no cases of children or young people currently under 18 have been identified.” Department of Children, 29/03/2023.
“I would appreciate if you could let me know if xxx is aware of any priest who has declared himself the father of a dependent child/children in line with the Irish Episcopal Conference’s ‘Principles of responsibility regarding priests who father children while in ministry’. This query relates only to a child under the age of 18 and to priests who are currently in a ministry in Ireland. It does not include priests who have left the priesthood, been laicized or defrocked.” – Department of Children to Religious Order, 2023.
- The email was sent to the provincial, who is the least likely to know of such children.
- It only seeks “dependent child/children”, thus under 18, “declared”. In addition, the priest must be still in ministry.
- So, an active, religious order priest in Ireland, who has “declared” himself to be a dad, to a child under 18, in 2023.
- How many retired priests in Ireland do you think fathered children in their mid to late fifties and declared it and continued in ministry in Ireland?
- These extraordinary conditions preclude, diocesan priests’ children (which includes me),
- children over 18 (do we assume their suffering disappears at their eighteenth birthday and discrimination along with it),
- children whose dads are alive (i.e., “currently in ministry in Ireland”), it precludes in all likelihood, children of Irish priests conceived abroad, since their dad (if he is alive and they are under 18), if he is not in Ireland, he too is excluded.
Why is the actions of the State so problematic?
[We] “commend you for your ongoing efforts in this regard, which is clearly echoed and supported by Senator Rónán Mullen, as evidenced from his letter of 16 February past.” – Holy See, 2022.