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Fr Iggy O'Donovan

Drogheda-based priest targeted over baptism

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Fr Iggy O'Donovan

A Drogheda-based rebel Augustinian priest has been removed from his parish after a complaint was made that he allowed the godparents to pour water on a baby's head during a baptism.

The complaint against Fr Iggy O'Donovan, which was made without the knowledge of the baby's parents, was first made to Cardinal Sean Brady and then forwarded to Rome.

Another priest in the diocese told the parents that the child would have to be baptized again by a different priest. The parents did not find out until after their son was baptized a second time that Fr Iggy was unaware of the complaint. They wrote to the Superior of the Augustinians in Ireland, Fr Gerry Horan at the time, to say that they had no issue with the way in which Fr Iggy had carried out the baptism, and they were unhappy that the matter had become "such an important issue in the church."

The priest's supporters believe the Augustinians moved him to lessen the impact any formal "silencing" of him by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome would have, the Irish Independent reports.

The CDF supposedly have "a file about him on their desk" with a list of complaints against Fr Iggy, including the baptism, as well as his controversial concelebration of mass on Easter Sunday 2006 with Church of Ireland clergyman, the Reverend Michael Graham.

The parents, who wish to remain unidentified, told the Sunday Independent that they fully support Fr O'Donovan, who will leave Drogheda, where he had been Augustinian Prior for 12 years, for a year-long sabbatical in Limerick.

"It seems that the CDF in Rome were examining some issue and our baby's baptism was on the list. We felt they were trying to use us," said the father.

"My wife and I are very angry that what we were led to believe was a technical matter was instead brought to the cardinal and CDF.

"This should be a special day in every child's life. Instead, we feel it has turned into a stick to beat Fr Iggy.

"Fr Iggy's name is on the baptismal certificate. That is how we want it to be. We wrote to the Augustinian Prior in Ireland because we wanted him to pass our letter to the CDF."

Fr Iggy has denied reports that he has been silenced by Rome or that he has been forced to leave Drogheda and in an interview on LMFM radio earlier this month said the move was a "confluence of events," which included the regular movement of friars.

Fr John Hennebry, The Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Community in Ireland, said Fr Iggy "is not under any penalty or punishment. As friars, we are moved around, and to move is the natural flow of things. It is a natural part of our existence. It is testament to Fr Iggy that people are so upset at his leaving Drogheda."

Nearly 1,500 people attended Fr Iggy's final Mass last Sunday, during which he condemned "the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics."

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