Priest at centre of controversial Listowel homily stands over his remarks

Bishop apologises over ‘deep upset and hurt’ caused to parishioners following the homily which referred to sex between two men and two women as a sin, among other comments

The priest at the centre of a controversial homily delivered to parishioners in Listowel has stood over his remarks regarding sexual sin, despite the Bishop of Kerry insisting they “do not represent the Christian position”.

Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne on Tuesday moved to apologise for the “deep upset and hurt” caused to parishioners following the homily delivered by retired priest Fr Seán Sheehy.

A number of people left the church during the Sunday mass, which was attended by around 200 people. The mass was also live streamed. Parents whose children are altar servers and whose children attended the masses are also said to be extremely upset.

The congregation at St Mary’s Church was told how sexual sin was rampant - sex between two men and two women was a sin and transgenderism was described as “lunatic”. The priest also referred to the “promotion of abortion” as sinful.


However, repentance would save people from Satan and his wiles and ways, according to Fr Sheehy, who was deputising for parish priest Fr O’Connor.

Fr Sheehy also said how a mother told him she felt the HSE, in distributing condoms to her 17-year-old daughter from a van on a night out in Tralee, was promoting promiscuity.

A number of people left the mass in protest at the priest’s remarks. “Those of you who happen to be leaving today, God help you is all I have to say,” said the priest.

Bishop Browne, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, said he was aware of “the deep upset and hurt” caused. He apologised to all who were offended.

“The views expressed do not represent the Christian position. The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms. I regret that this has occurred while a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land is taking place,” the bishop said, in an apparent reference to the fact that the parish priest, Canon Declan O’Connor, is away on pilgrimage.

However, on Tuesday night, Fr Seán Sheehy said he would stand over his remarks.

Bishop of Kerry Dr Ray Browne has told Fr Sheehy he is being removed from the mass roster in Listowel, Fr Sheehy said.

However, the priest said he believed that the Bishop of Kerry was “muzzling the truth”.

“I know myself what I said cannot be disproven by any honest to God Christian or Catholic teaching,” he told Radio Kerry.

He added that the bishop was “sacrificing the truth, or muzzling the truth in order to appease people.”

Fr Sheehy, who returned to Kerry from Baton Rouge in Louisiana in 2007, came to prominence previously when there was controversy after he shook hands with and provided a character reference for convicted sex offender Danny Foley of Meen, Listowel, in Tralee Circuit Court in 2009.