At the time, it sounded like a good idea to Father Olan Rynn. The project was a calendar, the sales of which would raise funds for child cancer and cerebral palsy. A young mother in Galway, Ireland, came up with the idea, based on another charity calendar in the U.K. Celebrities throughout Galway had agreed to pose for the project, including several athletes, a gynecologist and the proprietor of a bookshop. The sole stipulation was that each had to appear naked.
The 28-year-old Rynn said, "Oh sure, why not?" and had his photo taken while sitting bare-ass naked in a wing chair with legs crossed, wearing only his Roman collar, and a Bible hiding his penis.
All was peachy until the bishop of Galway, James McLoughlin, caught wind of the racy calendar featuring one of his own priests using the Lord's good book as a codpiece.
To his credit, Rynn had asked permission from the bishop to appear in the calendar. He just forgot to explain that it was to be full of nude people.
"I did not fully appreciate the type of calendar envisaged," McLoughlin told the Irish Independent, "and thinking it to be a straightforward fund-raising project in aid of two worthy charities, I gave Father Rynn permission to participate in the venture."
In an ensuing and no doubt tense conversation, McLoughlin took Rynn aside and explained that appearing naked with a Bible covering your schlong does not help promote the idea of God in any way, shape or form.
Realizing that a priest appearing buck naked was tantamount to kissing the devil on both cheeks, the bishop leaned on the publishers of the project and urged them to withdraw the shot of the priest. They agreed, and a revised version of the calendar appears this week, sans the flashing father.
Rynn prepared a statement of apology to his parish, which was read at Masses:
"I wish to apologize to those who were offended by my decision to appear on a calendar as reported [in a number of newspapers]. On reflection, I realize I made an error of judgment, albeit unintentional, to raise funds for research in the area of child cancer and cerebral palsy ... I apologize for the hurt caused, and it is my understanding that the photograph will not now appear on the calendar."
It was not Rynn who delivered these words to his congregation, however. The parish's Father Gerry Jennings read the statement on his behalf.
Bishop McLoughlin emphasized that Rynn was a valued member of the diocese. But the poor priest was not made available to reporters because he had been abruptly called away on, as the Irish Independent worded it, "a well-deserved and long-planned holiday."