A KILKENNY priest falsely accused of child abuse has returned to his parish after taking a leave of absence while the matter was sorted out writes Sean Keane. The Church of The Assumption in Mooncoin in the south of the county was full on Saturday night as Fr Peter Muldowney, returned to say Mass for the first time since September 24, 2010 when he asked for a leave of absence. He was assisted in the Mass by his bishop, Dr Seamus Freeman who welcomed the Kilmanagh native back to the parish where he has been doing great work for the last number of years.
Addressing the parishioners, Fr Muldowney thanked them for their support and invited everyone back to the parochial house after the service for tea and sandwiches. He received a round of applause from the congregation.
Speaking to the Kilkenny People, he said he was relieved and happy to be back and that everyone who knew him was aware that he was innocent. He bears no grudges over what happened.
He said Mass on Sunday morning at 10am in St Kevin’s Church, Carrigeen where he received a round of applause from the parishioners. Afterwards he said that he was going to concentrate on the welfare of the people he served and that he would do that to the best of his ability and in the spirit of the gospel. From there he went to the First Holy Communion service in Mooncoin where he was surrounded by well wishers.
He said he was heartened by the response from the people of the parish to his return and said he was delighted to be back among his flock adding that the last eight months had been difficult.
In a statement on the Ossory Diocese website. posted on Saturday night, Bishop Freeman said that last September Fr Muldowney had sought a period of leave from his ministry so that a safeguarding matter received by the diocese concerning him could be addressed.
“I adhered to his request. All Church and State Safeguarding Guidelines were fully complied with and I now inform you that this safeguarding matter has been withdrawn and Fr Peter returns to active ministry,” the statement ended.