The Pope has formally dismissed a former priest convicted of child sexual abuse.

James Donaghy, who is originally from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn and served as priest in the west Belfast parish of Corpus Christi in Ballymurphy,  was convicted of several sex abuse charges following trials in 2011 and 2013 and is currently serving a 10-year jail sentence, UTV reports.

Although Donaghy stepped down from his duties in March 2004, Pope Francis has now officially banned him from the ministry.

At his 2011 trial. Donaghy was found guilty of 23 sex abuse charges committed against three teenagers. In 2013, he was convicted of abusing a fourth victim. the court heard he told his young victim he could get his grandfather into heaven as he sexually abused the boy, the BBC reports.

In a statement, Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor said: “The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has informed the Diocese of Down and Connor that His Holiness, Pope Francis has dismissed James Donaghy from the clerical state on his own authority and for the good of the Church.

“This means that Mr Donaghy is not permitted to function as a priest under any circumstance, public or private.”

“On behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese of Down and Connor, I again extend my deepest sorrow and apologise to survivors who suffered such pain at the hands of someone in whom they had placed their trust.

“I hope that this decision will assist those affected on their journey towards healing.”

He added: “I assure all that the Diocese remains fully committed to protecting children and vulnerable adults with comprehensive structures of safeguarding in place throughout the diocese supported by specialist personnel and thousands of trained volunteers.

“The Diocese is also committed to bringing healing to the victims of abuse and is conscious of the right to privacy of the victims and will make no further comment.