AN 82-YEAR-OLD Irish priest, who was cleared of indecently assaulting a teenage girl, is fighting to stop his church from stripping him of his pension.
Fr Dan Duane, of Cecilstown, Mallow, Co. Cork, went on trial back in 2011 for an alleged assault of a woman 30 years previously, when she was 15 or 16 years old, but was acquitted.
He has consistently denied the charges, and says he should have the same pension, rights and maintenance as other retired priests, but following his acquittal, the church launched an independent investigation, and a canonical court in Ireland ruled that he should be dismissed from the clerical state.
The Vatican upheld the ruling in 2015 and Fr Duane has been battling the decision ever since.
He says he is now €70,000 in debt as his pension has been withdrawn, telling the Irish Daily Mail: "I'm 82. Where am I going to go? My rights are being trampled all over the place."
In an open letter to Bishop of Cloyne William Crean, Dr Duane said: "I'm €70,000 in debt; I've lost my VHI Insurance; my car is about to be repossessed; my electricity is about to be cut off; my phone is about to be cut off; I owe the banks €7,000; I owe my last oil bill for €1,000 and I'm deeply stressed.
"I'm writing this open letter, as a last resort, because I’m in grave fear for my mental and physical wellbeing.
"Bishop Crean, will you please explain to the people I served over my 40 years of active service in the Diocese of Cloyne why you are doing this? Specifically, your mandate in law for your actions?"
During his trial, the court heard that Fr Duane was alleged to have indecently assaulted a teenage girl when she went to his house to talk about a family problem.
She said she became upset and was crying while she was there and Fr Duane leaned towards her, kissed her on the lips and fondled her. She estimated the incident lasted around one minute and that she left the house in shock, only mentioning it to a friend months later, and did not raise it again for years afterwards.