Singing priest Father Ray Kelly has been forced to inform the gardaí after he received a spate of abusive and threatening phone calls and letters.
The Co Meath cleric is competing in this year’s edition of Dancing with the Stars.
His presence on the show has drawn criticism from some quarters, with people suggesting he should be focusing on his parish duties rather than dancing on television.
However, the criticism turned to threats and aggression leaving Fr Kelly with no choice but to seek help from the authorities.
The 66-year-old explained: “One particular card said ‘Remember what happened to John the Baptist when a woman danced for him? He was beheaded’.
“There was one card last week that came in: ‘Fr Ray, wouldn’t it be a wonderful witness with Lent coming, if you now for the nation decided to pull out of DWTS and show the nation just the sacrifice you’re making by pulling out?'”
Father Kelly has become somewhat of a celebrity since a video of him singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on their wedding day went viral. He has since also appeared in front of Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent and received praise from US rock legends REM after performing their hit Everybody Hurts.
This is the first time he has faced negative comments in any significant number, and a chilling phone call he received proved the final straw.
He described the phone call: “Every second word was the F word… priest, parish, parochial house, housekeeper, fat effing belly dancing around the floor.
“The man left his number on the phone and his name. His number showed up on the landline. I answered the phone and went into my messages and there it was.
“An hour or two later, I was in the house and I answered the phone again. He said: ‘Can I speak to Fr Ray Kelly please’ and I was suspicious about it.
“I said: ‘He’s not here, can I take a message?’ He said: ‘Can you tell him from me…’ and the whole spate again.”
Fr Kelly says he spoke to the production team at Dancing with the Stars and they advised him to make a formal complaint.
He said it is hard facing criticism for the first time in his career, but he won’t give up his part on the show.
Fr Kelly added: “For a while there, I was letting it come in to my head. As a priest, I’ve worked hard for 31 years. I’ve never gotten a huge amount of criticism for anything I’ve done. This is going back to singing ‘Hallelujah’ or doing ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.”
“But I was determined to go out there and enjoy it on Sunday tonight. My line is, if I can go out there and put a smile on people’s faces with what I do, just performing and whether it’s singing and dancing, then bring it on.”
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