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Paedophile priests damaged church 31.05.11

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 self-inflicted wounds."
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.
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