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Bishop Pat Buckley’s partner slams trolls who claimed cleric infected 57 men with HIV


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Eduardo Yanga (46) — who married Pat Buckley in a civil partnership 14 years ago — blasted back at the bishop’s anonymous attackers.

Keyboard warriors using fake Facebook accounts accused the veteran religious leader — who was openly gay — of infecting a number of men with AIDS.

And in a series of messages, they further claimed the pensioner padre was just days away from having his collar felt by the police when he went to meet his maker.

After he was suspended by the Catholic Church in 1986, Bishop Pat Buckley founded the Oratory Society, an Independent Catholic Church based in The Oratory at 6 Princes Gardens, in Larne, Co Antrim.

The property is a large rambling house with a small attached chapel in a converted garage.

And it was there Bishop Buckley died in his sleep on May 17. Friends say prior to his passing, the 72-year-old senior cleric showed no obvious signs of illness.

But last night his long term partner, Eduardo Yanga (46) — who married Pat Buckley in a civil partnership 14 years ago — blasted back at the bishop’s anonymous attackers.

Eduardo insisted the internet trolls pointing the finger were simply trying to blacken Pat Buckley’s good name in the eyes of the public and the many ordinary people who respected, admired and came to on him for help and advice.

He explained that was the reasoning behind his decision to close down Pat’s popular online blog, as well as his social media accounts, hours after his death.

Controversial cleric Bishop Pat Buckley

Eduardo told the Sunday World: “These people are just cowards. They never said a word about Pat when he was alive.

“But within hours of his passing, they defamed his good reputation, by claiming he was sexually promiscuous and spreading AIDS. He wasn’t. It was such an evil thing to say.

“They used anonymous accounts on Facebook and other social media to accuse Pat of outrageous behaviour, which just wasn’t true. And they also accused him of infecting up to 53 men with AIDS.

“It’s just not true. In fact, it is a disgrace, because Pat Buckley was one of the most decent human beings imaginable. Pat isn’t here to fight back or deny the accusations, so that’s why I’m speaking out today.

“After Pat passed away, I went through all of his papers and correspondence and I can assure you, Pat Buckley wasn’t under suspicion for anything and especially anything like that.

“Yes, he may have been HIV, but he was being treated for it and it was all under control.” Eduardo added. Under the law, individuals can be charged with causing death by knowingly passing on HIV through unprotected sex.

But Eduardo Yanga insisted: “Pat had never been questioned by the police about anything like that. And with these malicious rumours flying about last week, I decided to have myself tested.”

“Of course I was negative. These people are just evil.”

Pat Buckley

During an interview with the Sunday World yesterday in the home he shared with Bishop Pat Buckley at Princes Gardens, Larne, businessman Eduardo also spoke about finding Pat dead in his bed.

He said: “It’s important people know the truth and hopefully this will stop the malicious rumours.

“On the night Pat died, I got home from work around 10pm. Pat was in good form. He told me to kiss our adopted doggie and the he pretended to be a doggie himself, so I kissed him on the forehead!

“And I touched his scalp one, two, three times. That was our symbol meaning, ‘I love you’.

“I know some people may find that strange between two men, but Pat and I had a great relationship. And of course, he had made Irish history by being the first Catholic priest to get married in a civil partnership.

“The people of Larne were so good to me. The Catholics, Protestants, Presbyterians and all religions were so kind and respectful. God has many names and they respected Pat and I by leaving us to get on with our lives.

“Pat and I had a glass or two of wine every night. I told Pat that in the Philippines, we have wine only Fridays and Saturdays, but Pat insisted that in Ireland, it’s normal to have wine every night.

“We had red wine, white wine and brandy and then liqueurs. Pat’s favourite tipple was Benedictine,” explained Eduardo.

“He said he was tired and he stood up to go to bed and we hugged twice in our own special way. And we both said we loved one another.

“Around 12.05am, Pat went off to bed and I had another Bushmills. But around 12.30am, I went up the stairs also.

“I noticed Pat had left the light on and I said, Pat you said you were tired, you should be sleeping.

“But Pat said to me, ‘I wanted to see your face before I went to sleep. And that for me, is the most beautiful memory of Pat. It will stay with me for the rest of my life.

“I woke up at 8am and I looked over at Pat. I gave him three taps on his hip, one, two and three. But there was no response or movement.

“I then gave him a slightly more forceful tap on the shoulder, but still no response.

“I pulled his quilt back and said, ‘Pat, its morning!’

“Then I touched his back and it was still warm, but I also realised he was gone, so I leaned over and kissed his forehead. He must have passed away during the night.” explained Eduardo.

He added: “It was still early, so I just stayed with Pat for another 15 minutes.”

Eduardo said he then experienced some confusion for a while, but then he suddenly had an urge to go outside for some fresh air.

Memorial for Bishop Pat Buckley

“I went out into the garden and I began to cry uncontrollably. The neighbours saw me and came over to comfort me immediately. They had recently lost their mother, so they understood.

“The neighbours helped me so much and they told me to ring the police and they arrived soon afterwards, as did the ambulance.” said Eduardo.

He added: “But the paramedics confirmed Pat had passed away a few hours before.”

Eduardo explained he was assisted in making arrangements for Pat’s funeral by his friends and colleagues from the Oratory Society. After some discussion they opted for a private funeral.

“We had originally planned a public funeral, but because of the people spreading false news about Pat, we decided to make it private, although there were still around 60 people packed into the chapel.

Bishop Buckley is buried in a special plot set aside in Larne’s Greenland Cemetery for members of the Oratory Society, to which he belonged.

Eduardo said: “The truth is Pat was HIV and I want people to know this. But he and I were both celibate and we had been for many years. To claim he had infected 53 men with AIDS is such an evil thing to say about a good man.”

And he added: “For a man who was so organised in other ways. Pat never made a will, so at the moment we are trying to clear up his affairs.”

Born in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Pat Buckley was the eldest of 17 children. He studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1976. But he also obtained a Master’s degree in politics and social anthropology from Queen’s University in Belfast.

His first posting was to St Peter’s Pro-Cathedral in the Falls area of west Belfast.

Almost immediately, he clashed with the Church hierarchy over his regular visits to the Maze Prison, where he met and spoke with republican prisoners, including IRA hunger strike leader Bobby Sands.

He was eventually banished to Kilkeel and then to Larne, a largely Protestant sea port town 25 miles from Belfast.

After he was suspended from the priesthood, Buckley founded his own Oratory Church. And when he refused to leave the Parochial House he went to court, where he successfully established ‘squatters’ rights’.

In October 1999, Buckley revealed he was gay and four months later, he married Philippine boyfriend Eduardo in a civil ceremony in Larne.

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