NUJ "disturbed" by "any attempt to silence" Fr Brian D'ArcySaturday, April 28th, 2012
The head of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland has said he, “would be disturbed at any attempt to silence Fr Brian D’Arcy,” whom he described as “one of the most coherent voices in Irish journalism.”
Seamus Dooley described Fr D’Arcy as having, “always acted with integrity and compassion,” and added that he had, “helped bring the message of Christ to a wide audience, including many not otherwise exposed to the Church.”
He was speaking to ciNews in response to the news that the BBC broadcaster and The Sunday World columnist has been censured by the Vatican. Fr D’Arcy has been ordered by the CDF to submit his weekly column for The Sunday World to an approved church censor before publication if the article addresses issues concerning church doctrine or morality.
The CDF’s action against the popular priest, who celebrates fifty years in religious life this year, follows an anonymous complaint. According to sources, Fr Ottaviano D’Egidio c.p., the Passionist Superior General, was summoned by Cardinal William Levada of the CDF over fourteen months ago.
The Prefect of the CDF conveyed his dissatisfaction with four articles of Fr D’Arcy’s from his total output over 38 years. The tabloid has a weekly circulation of 250,000 with a mixed readership of all faiths and none.
It is believed that some of the CDF Prefect’s concerns related to headlines in the articles, which were not even penned by the Irish priest but by the newspaper’s editorial team.
Passionist provincial in Ireland, Fr Pat Duffy CP, confirmed the CDF strictures. He underlined that 67-year-old Fr D’Arcy is complying fully with the terms laid down by the CDF.
“He hasn’t been silenced. He is a priest in good standing,” he said.
He explained how the investigation came about.
“Some time ago the CDF was in touch with our General about some of Brian’s views and since then Brian has been co-operating to ensure that he can continue to make a contribution to the religious journalism that he is involved in,” Fr Duffy said of the priest who is a consultor in the Irish, Scottish, Paris and Africa province of St Patrick.
He refused to be drawn on further details, describing it as, “a very sensitive,” situation. He said Fr D’Arcy is currently a member of the provincial council and that the congregation was due to hold a chapter in May, “so all that can change.”
The priest, who is highly regarded within Ireland’s showbiz community, has authored over ten books, including his best-selling autobiography, A Different Journey that sold 60,000 copies. In it, he revealed how he was abused as a seventeen-year-old seminarian.
He has been a long-time critic of the church over its mishandling of clerical sexual abuse. Often, he was the only priest willing to be interviewed by the Irish media on the issue as a spate of scandals erupted from the 1990s onwards.
In the wake of the publication of the Murphy Report on the archdiocese of Dublin, he accused the Vatican of using legal procedures to shield it from criticism over questions regarding its handling of allegations of child sexual abuse. He also called on members of the Irish hierarchy to resign.
Fr D’Arcy was the first priest member of the National Union of Journalists in Ireland and just over two weeks ago was nominated as a Life Member to mark his 40 year as a member. Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the NUJ, said the union would be in touch with Fr Brian, “to offer him support and solidarity.”
He added, “It is ironic that this news comes as May 3, World Press Freedom Day, draws near.”
by Sarah Mac Donald