Crisis affords chance to remove ills of past, says Walsh

Wed, Dec 9, 2009, 00:00

BISHOP'S VIEWS:THE BISHOP of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh, said yesterday that the crisis in the Church was also a time of opportunity to remove what was wrong in the past.

Speaking ahead of today’s winter general meeting of the Bishops’ Conference, Dr Walsh said in Shannon that the bishops attending the meeting will be going there “in a very humble and repentant spirit and hope and pray that we can in some way touch the hearts of those who have been so hurt over the years”.

He said: “Whatever our failures have been in the past, I think all of us are going into that meeting in that spirit, that we need to get back to the values and teachings and example of Jesus Christ.”

He said there was an “opportunity to remove whatever was wrong in the past . . . Whatever price it takes, we want to remove all of that – whatever it takes to bring the real spirit of Christ . . . to bring that back, to bring back truth, justice, compassion and love”.

He added: “Every crisis is also an opportunity, an opportunity for serious change, to begin again, to renew our faith, our hope and indeed our love.”

Dr Walsh also publicly apologised again for remarks he made on RTÉ radio last week where he warned against a desire for “a head on a plate” concerning calls for the resignation of Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray.

“I’m very conscious that last week, I made ill-chosen words in a radio interview which caused deep hurt,” he said.

He added: “I have no hesitation in apologising for that hurt. The very last thing that anyone would want is to add to the hurt, the deep hurt of survivors of sexual abuse.”

Yesterday, Bishop Walsh wept openly after a parish priest declared the people’s love for him at the blessing and dedication of a new Adoration Chapel in Shannon. Fr Tom Ryan told Dr Walsh “we love you”, and thanked the bishop for his 15 years of inspirational leadership, not just in the diocese of Killaloe, but across the Irish church.

The packed church responded with sustained applause for Dr Walsh. Fr Ryan recalled being a student in Galway during Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1979. Addressing Dr Walsh at the end of the Mass, he said: “The Pope told us in the early morning ‘young people of Ireland, I love you’ and I would sincerely say with the greatest respect to you, ‘Bishop Willie we love you here too’. ”

Dr Walsh is due to retire as bishop next year. Fr Ryan told him: “This is your 50th year of ordination and you truly have been an inspiring leader, not just to the Killaloe diocese, but to the Irish church and may you continue to do so for many years to come.”

The new church is the first new church in the Diocese of Killaloe this century and was built at a cost of €250,000 by SkyCourt, the developers of SkyCourt shopping centre in Shannon.

Dr Walsh said that the timing of the opening of the new church was significant as he said “in recent years and above all in recent days has shown our church to be in deep crisis”.