Fr John McManus: Priest cleared of abuse claims resumes duties
A senior priest who was cleared of abuse allegations more than three years ago has returned to his duties.
Fr John McManus, from Portaferry, County Down, stepped aside in March 2011 during an investigation.
In June 2012, the Public Prosecution Service decided he had no case to answer.
Fr McManus told parishioners he was "delighted and privileged" to be joining them in celebrating Mass.
"The last time I celebrated Mass in this Church of Saint Patrick was on 9 March 2011, Ash Wednesday, when I informed you that I had requested administrative leave from ministry for the duration of the necessary inquiries.
"Since then, I have been very much at home living here among you.
"I wish to thank especially my family, my neighbours and friends of all faiths and none for their support and kindness shown to me during this time."
Police conducted an inquiry after a complaint was made to the Diocese of Down and Connor's child safeguarding office.
Fr McManus was a former press spokesperson for the diocese and a member of its committee that oversees the safeguarding of children.
He celebrated Mass in Portaferry on Saturday and Ballygalget on Sunday along with Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor.
Bishop Treanor said Fr McManus had co-operated fully with a "thorough investigation by the police and the Public Prosecution Service", as well as an inquiry within the Catholic Church.
He told churchgoers that the "canonical judicial inquiry concluded that there were not and are not any safeguarding issues that prevent his return to ministry".
"I wish Fr John many happy years of fruitful ministry after the past four and a half years, during which time he has been supported by his family, by friends and by you, his parishioners."