This "celibate" priest fathered two children, his colleagues say

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Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related

By a Broken Rites researcher

  • Article posted 26 October 2012

Father John Ignatius O'Callaghan (of the Melbourne archdiocese) took the traditional Catholic vow of a "celibate" priest. That is, he vowed never to get married. Instead, in the 1980s, he merely had a private relationship with a woman, who gave birth to Father O'Callaghan's two daughters. These girls have grown up into adulthood, knowing that they are the offspring of Father John O'Callaghan.

The private life of Fr John O' Callaghan is no secret among the Melbourne clergy of his generation. Several Melbourne priests have confirmed the O'Callaghan matter to Broken Rites.

This kind of "private life" is accepted by a priest's colleagues (many of whom have a "private life" of their own). Meanwhile, bishops and other church leaders (some of whom may have a "private life" themselves) look the other way, hoping that the practice does not get into the media. Any media exposure would damage the church's corporate brand-name.

Father John O'Callaghan was born in 1929, the third child in a family of eight. In those times, it was common for a large Catholic family to channel one of its sons into a career in the priesthood — and a lifetime of (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) "celibacy".

O' Callaghan died in 1995, aged 66. He is survived by his two daughters.

The Catholic Church authorities still advertise their clergy as "celibate" but, as shown by the O'Callaghan case (and others), "celibate" merely means "not married".

Father John Ignatius O'Callaghan's adult relationship was not a criminal offence. However, several people have complained about having been abused by O'Callaghan when they were minors. See about these complaints here.

Also see these articles about two other cases of "celibacy":

  • Part-time celibacy: How this woman, Jane, was left holding a priest's baby


  • More part-time celibacy: The story of Zelda, a girl who had two children fathered by a Catholic priest