Fr Brian D’Arcy, a broadcaster and newspaper columnist who is widely known in Ireland and elsewhere in the British Isles, said he had not challenged church doctrine but was censured by Vatican authorities for articles that verged away from Catholic orthodoxy. He has also been vocally critical of the Church's response to sex abuse scandals.
The Catholic priest, who regularly broadcasts on BBC Radio 2 and Radio Ulster and writes a religious column for the Sunday World newspaper in Ireland, has been required by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to submit his writings in advance for approval.
The four articles by Fr D’Arcy that were the focus of an investigation concerned how the Vatican dealt with the issue of women priests; why US Catholics were leaving the church; why the church must take responsibility for clerical child sex abuse; and homosexuality. Authorities at the Vatican were also apparently concerned about headlines on some of the articles, which would have been written by editorial staff at the Sunday World.
Fr D’Arcy (67), said he was told 14 months ago of the disciplinary action which means he must submit his writings and broadcasts to an official censor. News of the episode only emerged publicly over recent days. He claims that the sanction came following an anonymous complaint about a headline on an article he had written, a letter on homosexuality he had published in his column, and criticism of his church’s handling of child abuse scandals in Ireland.
About his criticisms of the hierarchy, Fr. D'Arcy said in his recent radio interview, “One of them was that I was critical of the Vatican, in particular the Pope, about views on how the sexual abuse of children should be handled, and that I seemed to be pointing that all the blame was going back to Rome,” he said. “Now I never said all the blame was going back to Rome, but if we’re honest about it, I think some must go back to Rome.” Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Marian Finucane program on April 28, he said “And that is a sort of self-obvious fact. How can anybody be criticized for saying a self-obvious fact?"
The outspoken priest, who has denounced abuse of children by clerics and other Catholic religious, said "I must also take responsibility as a man who lived through this - and in some cases lived with men who abused and didn’t see it - God you know, that’s what keeps me awake at night now I have to say. This is where the secrecy, the non-questioning mind - and therefore anybody that speaks out at all is bound to be silenced or gagged, or whatever word you want to use, censured is the word I prefer - if you go back to that, no matter what other structures you put up around the protection of children, it won’t work."
Said Fr. D'Arcy, "Any system depends on the integrity of the person carrying out the system. And if the person carrying out the system is afraid to talk about ‘that, or that, or question why about that’, then the secrecy veil comes in again, and children will not be protected.” He added “I speak strongly about this and I will make no apologies. I don’t mean it to be an offence to anybody when I say this, but if people expect me, who was abused twice in my life, to be silent about issues and about the protection of children, I can’t do that.”
Fr D’Arcy, a member of the Passionist Order has said there must be further discussion within the Catholic Church, or else there would be no point in him being a priest. He claims that as a newspaper columnist and radio personality he is able to reach people who otherwise would have no contact with religion. “I want to use that gift for the church that I have grown up in, that I have given 50 years to this year, of committed service, that I love,” he said. “I don’t want to end in failure, and say the Catholic Church that I believed in and would grow to be something beautiful, was not what it appeared to be. I think that would be the ultimate crucifixion.”
Fr D’Arcy is the fifth Catholic priest in Ireland who is known to have been so disciplined by the Vatican recently. The others are Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney, Marist priest Fr Sean Fagan and Capuchin priest Fr Owen O’Sullivan.