31st March 2012
Statement of Archbishop Dermot Clifford on the return of Fr Tadgh Furlong to the Parish of Cappawhite, Co Tipperary, Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly
Archbishop Clifford to concelebrate Mass with Fr Furlong at the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Cappawhite, Co Tipperary
I am delighted to be here today to welcome Fr Tadhg Furlong back to ministry in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly.
Together, with you, I welcome Fr Tadhg back to the full priestly ministry in which he served you, the people of the parish of Cappawhite, and the Archdiocese, with dedication and commitment as a priest for almost 36 years. I welcome back Fr Tadhg with an unblemished character.
In March 2010, in accordance with the diocesan child safeguarding policy, Fr Tadhg agreed to stand aside temporarily from the exercise of his ministry to enable a complaint be investigated. A thorough investigation of the complaint has now been completed on my behalf and its results have been examined by the Advisory Board established by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church. In accordance with its recommendation I am returning Fr Tadhg to full priestly ministry. I have been completely satisfied that the complaint has not been substantiated. Fr Tadhg is a priest in good standing who enjoys my complete trust and esteem.
Fr Tadhg has endured the prolonged ordeal of his standing aside with outstanding courage and honour. His approach has been fully in keeping with the dedication which he has shown throughout his priestly life to selfless service of Church and community. Fr Tadhg has been supported by his family, friends and parishioners to all of whom a deep debt of gratitude is due. He has asked me to thank you, the parishioners of Cappawhite for your support for him through your prayers, thoughts and many acts of kindnesses. In Fr Tadhg’s name and on his behalf I do so with profound gratitude to you.
Standing aside from the ministry does not mean that what is being investigated is either true or false. It is a precautionary step necessitated because the safety and well-being of children must be the paramount consideration when an allegation is made. Standing aside involves a profound personal sacrifice on the part of an innocent person.
The Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly will continue to emphasise and to encourage a culture of vigilance in the area of safeguarding. It is incumbent on all of us as individuals, as parish communities and as a society to ensure that our safeguarding practices with children and young persons are of the highest standard.
In conclusion I wish again to express my deep appreciation to Fr Tadhg’s for his faithful adherence to all that has been asked of him during this period and to wish him many years of fruitful ministry.
Next week, on Holy Thursday, all our priests will come together for the Chrism Mass at which they will renew their priestly commitments. I ask you to remember all priests in your prayers at this time.
Media contact – the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 0861727678