Is It safe for Marathon Man? Not when Fr Horan’s around…

The BBC carries a piece on Cornelius Horan (also known as Neil Horan), the religious protestor who managed to wreck the Olympic marathon:

Horan, who pushed Brazil’s Vanderlei De Lima off the road, told police it was to “prepare for the second coming”.

Opinions about Horan, who invaded the British Grand Prix last year, are divided. According the Greek authorities:

Police said Horan had mental problems, adding he was “not very well”.

But Horan’s e-publisher at Deunant Books had a different perspective:

He comes across as a shy, very intelligent and compassionate man but as is often the way with people who are very intelligent, it sometimes manifests itself in very strange ways.”

After the Grand Prix protest, Broad had refused calls to withdraw Horan’s books, arguing in the Wales Daily Post that:

“These books are too important to pull. I found them compelling and I’m not just saying that. It really surprised me.

“Father Horan has a very compelling argument in these books that Armageddon is just around the corner and it’s going to start with an imminent nuclear war in the Middle East. The books are entitled A Glorious New World and Christ Will Soon Take Power From All Governments.

The Irish Kingdom fills in some background:

Following his studies at St Brendan’s College, Killarney and St Peter’s College in Wexford, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Eamonn Casey on June 17, 1973 in St Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney. The following year he took an interest in a movement known as the Apostolic Fellowship of Christ and resigned from the priesthood but he rejoined in 1980…

He was ordered by his superiors to have psychiatric treatment, in Killarney and in Harley Street, and he was later sacked for using his sermons to “advance his sensationalist views”.

Further details (although not quite consistent with the above) are available from Deunant Books:

His interest in Bible prophecy began when he attended a lecture in 1974, given by the Apostolic Fellowship of Christ, a group which had originated with the Christadelphians…He is still a Catholic Priest, listed in the Catholic Directory under his full name of Cornelius Horan. Cornelius, a Centurian in the Roman army, was the first Christian convert; Father Horan is proud to bear that name and hopes to meet his famous namesake soon, when Jesus comes.

The Kingdom has covered Horan for a while:

We have reported faithfully on his one-man crusade for world peace, his peace dance at the House of Commons, his correspondence with world leaders and his heartfelt belief that the end of the world, as we know it, is fast approaching and will be replaced by “a glorious new world”. Fr Horan’s publicity campaign has stemmed from a genuine belief that the end is nigh and, dear reader, who are we to dispute his stance or dismiss his predictions? His decision to race onto the track at Silverstone while the British Grand Prix was in full flight was the act of a man desperate to get his point across and it confirmed that he was willing to risk his own life be true to his convictions.

Horan has also gained the attention of Robert Fisk at the UK Independent (see here for a reposted version) who told us in 2001 that:

Of all the mail that arrives in Beirut for me, none is more singular, more crammed with biblical quotation, more bizarre than the packet that regularly arrives from a certain Father Neil Horan of Nunhead…he has a stack of letters from the great and the good from Tony Blair to the Royal Thai embassy, from Lord Tebbit to the Israeli chairman of “the International Forum for a United Jerusalem” expressing appreciation to him for sending his predictions, without apparently realising that one of them is the arrival of Jesus Christ as Commander-in-Chief of the Israeli army.

Various responses are reprinted. Here’s the one from Tebbit (a sort of British Jesse Helms from the Thatcher years):

“Dear Father Horan,” he writes in May of this year in response to a letter from the priest about religion and the EU. “Alas, the only religion supported by the European Union is the religion of centralised undemocratic power.”

UPDATE: Father Horan has been acquitted of a sexual abuse charge.