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Forgive me says affair-claim priest - The Irish News
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Forgive me says affair-claim priest

A PROMINENT priest who allegedly had a two-year relationship with a woman has asked his parishioners for "forgiveness".

Fr Ciaran Dallat said he will seek "spiritual guidance and counselling" over the next few months in an effort to return to ministry. The 52-year-old has not been seen by parishioners at St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast since the claims emerged in The Irish News more than two weeks ago.

But in his first statement about the controversy, issued through the Diocese of Down and Connor last night, the assistant priest said: "In acknowledgement of and in an effort to repair the damage and hurt that I have caused, I will undertake over the coming months a directed retreat, spiritual guidance and counselling. "My sincere hope is that with this support I will be able to resume the exercise of priestly ministry. I am immensely grateful for the many messages of support from parishioners and others and I ask for your continued prayers and for forgiveness." Fr Dallat is alleged to have begun a relationship with a 49-year-old businesswoman in 2012 after the pair went on a pilgrimage. She claimed she miscarried his child and that he said he would leave the Church for her.

Initially the diocese said it was "a private matter between two persons who are adults". The following day it said the diocese was taking the allegations "seriously". Two vigils in support of Fr Dallat were held outside the cathedral last week.

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