A 54 page report lifting the suspension of John Goodwin

Dublin Core


A 54 page report lifting the suspension of John Goodwin


Lough Derg--Northern Ireland--Catalogue--Report


A summary of a case initially arising from a confession given to a widow during the Lough Derg pilgrimage.


Public Record Office of Northern Ireland


Report in Public Record Office of Northern Ireland


Public Record Office of Northern Ireland




PRONI eCatalogue


Open access on catalogue


Summarised report




Catalogue transcript




54.6083, -7.8714



Text Item Type Metadata


"A 54 page report lifting the suspension from John Goodwin and giving a detailed account of his case.

The widow of Hugh Harran last summer, went to St. Patrick's Purgatory in order to obtain its indulgences when she heard that it was being regarded as a place of public penance. When she arrived,she went to a confessor called George Mohan so that she could confess her sins. During her confession she told her sins and sought absolution and she told her confessor that she had verbally harmed her PP, John Goodwin, because her husband had died without the sacraments. When the confessor heard this, he came out of the confessional box, before the woman had finished her confession and had received absolution, and he ordered her to follow him. He took her to Rev Patrick Bellew who was Prior of the place and a relative of the bishop. Since he spoke to the Prior without the woman's permission he violated the seal of confession by revealing to the Prior what he had heard in confession from the woman, that her husband had died without the comfort of the sacraments because of the negligence of Fr Goodwin. Then the Prior ordered the woman to bring her son to him on the next day so that he could see if this was true. She did as she was told and brought her son to a place where the confessor, the Prior and other priests were present. At once, the Prior gave to the son the book of the holy evangelists so that he could swear an oath. He, however refused saying 'It is enough that I have lost my father. I don't want to be annoyed even more'. However the Prior continued to urge him and tried to get him to swear by saying "What would happen if your mother died in her present state?". The young man replied "Our priest at home would be opposed to it". The Prior then, to satisfy the mother and her terrified son, pointed to Rev [Edward] Kernan saying "This is the superior of your priest".

After the conversation, the Prior drew up charges against Fr John Goodwin, his curate, and accused him before the bishop that very many sick people had died without the sacraments because of his negligence. When Fr Goodwin heard about this, he at once summoned to himself the widow Harran, and Catherine Curran who had gone to St Patrick : Purgatory at the same time. He asked the widow why she had made accusations against him to the Rev Patrick Bellew, the relative of the bishop and Prior of Lough Derg. In very clever words she told the parish priest what she had said in confession and how the confessor there had granted her forgiveness. The priest asked her three times whether she had accused him of anything criminal. From this he knew that the seal of confession had been broken and so that he could proceed wisely he wanted to bring together proven and wise priests to ask them what he should do. All those who were brought together agreed to meet the bishop and tell him the name of the person who had broken the seal. Encouraged by these men, the parish priest denounced the Rev Mohan for breaking the seal of confession he heard from the woman. He accused also Patrick Bellew a relative of the bishop and Prior of Lough Derg and Edward Kernan, who was the chancellor.

This very serious case was brought to the bishop. His grace was concerned about the case against his relative and the other priests. We learnt in another letter how disturbed he was and the reason for his judgement. The judgement was delivered in a spirit of hatred and revenge. When he called the widow Harran and Catherine Curran, he at first terrified them with threats and heard from the widow what she had said to her confessor, and what he had afterwards revealed to the Prior without her permission. However, she said that she would not recognise the confessor again because she had a bad memory for faces. However, her travelling companion, Catherine Curran, who had gone to confession after the widow, knew the confessor and pointed him out in an episcopal court. It seemed that the matter was finished and that the bishop would condemn the defendants for breaking the seal of confession and would suspend them until he could examine the matter better. Nevertheless he pardoned them and accused John Goodwin of calumny and suspended him from all his priestly and pastoral offices for a year and said that the suspension would be forever if he didn't give expenses to all the judges and seek forgiveness on bended knees from them.

From this sentence, John Goodwin appealed to the Archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of all Ireland. He, who had known the bishop for a long time, had previously tried to remove the scandals from that diocese and refused to accept the appeal saying, "I do not wish to get involved in your affairs in the diocese. I want nothing to do with it. You must approach our guide and lord who is inspired by God, by going to the Roman Curia. This is the only safe way."

This was done and he is appealing to the Holy See and has received a rescript dated 15 December 1804. The case was handed over to the Archbishop of Armagh and he was given power to deal with it. Therefore the case is about the sentence of suspension which the bishop of Clogher laid upon the Rev John Goodwin, PP of Clones.

There was also another case to be seen about the Rev Maginn which we have learned was null and void."

Original Format



Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, “A 54 page report lifting the suspension of John Goodwin,” Digital Derg: A Deep Map, accessed June 22, 2024, https://digitalderg.eu/items/show/478.