In the last few days, the story of Fr. Michael Hogan has been the subject of much coverage in the local, national and international media and though one would expect this, in a way it is symbolic of a new sense of Christianity amongst the people of Feakle that they would like Fr Hogan to remain amongst them.
What has come in for more serious attention has been the tactics used by the media, namely the Irish Sun gutter trash paper, and the now latest piece of information coming into the public domain is that the person who first became aware of this being Fr Hogan on the site, communicated as recently as 4 days ago threatening to blackmail the priest for €1,000.
The priest refused to allow himself to be so blackmailed, and hence the entrapment and publishing of the story by aforementioned gutter press.
In all honesty, Fr Hogan is a victim of his own naivete and stupidity to have sent such pictures of himself so freely to others, but it also questions in so many ways, the vow of celibacy as imposed upon - and accepted let it be said - by us Catholic clergy.
We are as human as the rest of the population we are called to serve and indeed, we are expected in many ways to be more than that also but we do our best.
The rule of celibacy is basically a result of the hierarchial church protecting its finances which it would hate to lose (contrary to the teachings of Jesus!!) and also gives the local bishop more control over his priests especially when re-appointing clergy to new parishes.
However, the Church has not been so embracing of the gay community and this is evident in its recent publishing of documents which refers to homosexuality as being intrinsically disordered to state just one piece of diatrabe emenating from the papal apartment.
This in conjunction with the recent comments from the new president of the Italian Bishops Conference who categorically compared homosexuality to peadophilia shows how unenlightened the Vatican allows itself to be in these circumstances. Ignorance is certainly bliss but there is no excuse for homophobia!!!
Fr Hogan has now taken time away to decide his fate, with the support of Bishop of Killaloe and it will indeed be some time before anything in relation to his position will become public knowledge.
In the interim let us pray for all concerned, especially the person who attempted to blackmail the priest, because he will need all the prayers he can get!!
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