Irish bishops to fund help for children of priests

Ireland’s Catholic bishops have agreed to provide funds for any counselling required by clients of a support group for children of priests.

Irish-based Coping International was assured by the bishops that this support would be forthcoming.

The bishops made this decision at their autumn meeting in October last year.

The therapy would be provided through the church-sponsored “Towards Healing” service.

The founder of Coping International said the “Irish Catholic bishops have been providing counselling services ‘ad hoc’ through Towards Healing since 2011 to children of Irish Catholic priests and to their mothers since 2013”.

He told The Tablet that the Irish bishops’ decision is believed to be “the first of its kind in the Church”.

Coping International maintains contact with more than 30 children of priests and also some priests.

It works “primarily (at this point) with Irish clientele”, but includes the Philippines, Africa and South America, where Irish priests work as missionary priests.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin reportedly stated: “I pray that Coping will be able to find ways which will bring the children of priests and their natural parents together for the benefit of both.”

Blogging for The Tablet, David Weber, founder of Human Rights for Children of Priests, said thousands of people are affected by this issue worldwide.

Mr Weber wrote that while “a child of a diocesan parish priest might sometimes have secret contact with his or her father . . .  in my experience, the payment of child support is attached to a confidentiality agreement that results in immense pressure on the child not to tell anyone who the father is”.

He pointed to the 2014 report on the Vatican’s compliance with the UN convention of the right of the child on this matter.

Mr Weber said a UN committee’s report was “almost revolutionary” in recommending that “the Vatican find out who [the children of priests] are, [and] take all necessary measures to ensure that the rights of those children to know and to be cared for by their fathers is respected“.


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