A Catholic priest in Springfield, Illinois, has been granted a leave of absence from his church after he called 911 from the rectory and told a dispatcher that he needed help getting out of handcuffs.

The incident happened 28 November, and the Illinois Times has now published a transcript of the conversation between Father Tom Donovan of St Aloysius Church and the emergency services.

“I’m going to need help getting out before this becomes a medical emergency,” Father Tom Donovan told a dispatcher – who sounded highly surprised.

“You’re stuck in a pair of handcuffs?” the dispatcher asks.

“[I was] playing with them and I need help getting out,” Donovan responds.

Donovan told the dispatcher that he was alone in the rectory.

It’s not clear exactly how he ended up in handcuffs or why he feared a medical emergency.

His voice sounds garbled or muffled on the tape

Sources say that police discovered some sort of gag on the priest when they arrived.

Donovan was eventually freed from his self-induced captivity and has now been granted a leave of absence from his church.

The state of Illinois is currently debating whether to legalise equal marriage – although a vote due to take place this week has now been delayed.