From the Irish Independent, 21 December, 2004
PRIEST WHO SENT DISABLED ADULTS OUT OF MASS NOW 'REGRET' ACTIONS
By David Quinn
Religious Affairs Correspondent
Two intellectually disabled adults were forced to leave Mass in Kilkenny on Sunday evening after a priest claimed they were too noisy.
The congregation at the Black Abbey in Kilkenny city was angered when Fr Dominic Brown stopped the Mass and asked the people looking after the intellectually disabled adults to take them out of the church.
The two were removed and the Mass restarted.
Fr Brown (73) at first defended his actions by saying that people should not be brought to Mass if they were not able to attend 'intelligently'. He said that if someone was making noise in the theatre, the natural thing would be to bring them out.
However, last night Fr Brown said he regretted his action, which he did 'under tension'. "In retrospect I should probably have down and shook their hands," he said.
However, he said he asked that they be taken out "because of the sheer noise, not the handicap". The carers should have woken to the fact that the Mass "was being disrupted".
The General secretary of the National Association for People with Disabilities, Deidre Carroll, described the incident as 'very regrettable'.
She said, "I hope this is a one-off incident. It must have been very embarassing for the carers. In every community, such people will be known and allowances will be made for them. More tolerance needs to be shown."
And Julie Ann Dalton, who has a special needs brother who attends church in Kilkenny on a regular basis, said Fr Brown was self-righteous and pompous.
She pointed out the Bishop of Ossory, Dr Laurence Forristal, has always encouraged people with special needs to attend his Masses.
The head of the National Conference of Priests of Ireland, Fr John Littleton, said: "I would never ask someone to remove a child or an intellectually disabled person from Mass.
"I would meet the parents of a very noisy child. I would talk to them afterwards."
Fr Brown, a Dominican, said that he had been a priest for over 40 years and had carried out parish work in Australia as well as Ireland and had put up with children crying on many occasions.
But the kind of noise experienced on Sunday could put a "nervous strain" on a priest, he said.
I had a number of different thoughts when I read this, and intend to reflect upon them. My feeling and experience is that the Church is for all. Yes, sometimes there are distractions, interruptions and noise. The notion given at the beginning that only those who may attend 'intelligently' should come to services I repugnant.
What I do not want to happen is for this post to be used as a weapon against the Latins or their clergy. Anyone of us might find ourselves in a similar situation and our reactions might be interesting.....................