Paedophile priests damaged church
by Linda McGrory
AN INISHOWEN priest has blamed paedophile clerics
and how they were dealt with by church authorities
for doing more damage to the Catholic church in
Ireland than secularism.
Fr John Walsh said while secularism "undermines"
religious ministry the worst attacks came "from
inside" the church itself.
"The Church can come under attack from outside. In
our own times secularism undermines the church's
mission," said Fr Walsh.
"But the most insidious attacks against the church
come from inside itself. For the last several
decades we have seen the damage that has been done
to the church in Ireland by paedophile members,
particularly priests and religious, and by the way
church authorities in Ireland have dealt with them."
Fr Walsh, parish priest of Buncrana, was speaking
during an open-air mass to mark the 300th
anniversary of the death of the Catholic martyr,
Friar James Hegarty, who was beheaded by British
Crown forces during penal times.
The friar, who was
parish priest of Fahan and Desertegney, was betrayed
by his sister Mary's husband Thomas, and their two
sons, who received £50 for being informants.
Fr Walsh told Sunday's congregation: "In 2011 we are
called to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to
bring much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the
rebuilding and renewal of our beloved church.
"Like Father Hegarty we must not flinch. We must
hold fast to our beliefs and our practices no matter
how severe the onslaughts, no matter how deep the
Fr John Walsh.
The open air mass was
held at Fr Hegarty's Rock located on the shore walk
about 2km from Buncrana. Principal concelebrant was
the Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty.
Fr Walsh urged parishioners to resolve to "build up
our domestic church" by improving their personal
relationships with loved ones including "our
partners, our parents, our children, our siblings,
our relatives, our neighbours".
He said the martyred friar "fought against drink
abuse" in the 18th century.
"We, too, have a need so to do. Drink and drug abuse
have a grip on our society. Let us live our own
lives soberly and let us encourage those who follow
close behind us to do the same," added Fr Walsh.
"Father Hegarty was proud to be a priest. He
thrilled to his very being because he had been
ordained. He died because he was a priest. His
successors should have a similar approach, a similar
commitment and a similar tenacity," he said.