Taken from Daniel O’Leary’s final article, shortly before he died.

Daniel O’Leary, priest and well-loved spiritual writer, has written his final article published in January issue of The Tablet; he wrote it a few weeks before he died.  It is an extraordinary article.

Below is one extract from it, his thoughts on compulsory celibacy.

SOON I’LL BE next at the waiting-room exit door. I’m anxious to be in my best bib and tucker for the occasion. This, as you know, has long been my desire – to be free of fear and bitterness, and full of love and desire, as I step up for the final inspection. So I must be very careful in what I write next. I now believe, with all my heart, that compulsory celibacy is a kind of sin, an assault against God’s will and nature. Let me avoid the mine- field that this could drag us into! I’m just pointing out that one of the fall-outs of manda- tory celibate life is the violence it does to a priest’s humanity, and the wounds that it leaves on his ministry. Again, I can hear the voices calling me a traitor to the cause. But, please remember, I’m only recalling the mem- ories, convictions and awakenings that are filling my soul during these ever-so-strange final days and nights.

Some priests hang on to their authentic, essential selves; many of us do not. The enemy, we were warned, back in the 1950s, was a failure in prayer; falling in love was the cancer; suppression, sublimation and confession were the cure. Emotion was the threat; detachment was the safeguard; becoming too human was the risk; the subtle carapace of clericalism was the precaution. Clericalism is a collective malaise which keeps vibrant, abundant life at bay; it quarantines us for life from the personal and communal expression of healing relationships, and the lovely grace of the tenderness which Pope Francis is trying to restore to the hearts of all God’s people.

Daniel O’Leary (recently deceased)