Catholic priest thanks church for support


A PRIEST representing the Catholic Church as a guest at the Church of Ireland general synod yesterday expressed gratitude on behalf of his church for support during the past “difficult” year.

Fr Kieran McDermott told delegates in Christ Church Cathedral: “I state the obvious when I say that the past year has been a particularly difficult one for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Throughout this time, the support of many in the Church of Ireland at every level, both lay and ordained, has meant a great deal to us at local and national levels.”

He continued that “the genuine support between pastors, between the faithful and between Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic bishops is testimony to how we all understand the seriousness of the scandals and their profound effects, in the first place, on the victims of abuse and on the Christian family on the island.

“So, on behalf of all in the Roman Catholic Church, I wish to express our thankfulness for that support but especially the support of your prayers.”

Reflecting on the conduct of the general synod, Fr McDermott said: “It has been a privilege to see ecclesial democracy in action and to witness to the diversity of the Church . . . I stand before you not only as an official visitor but as an ecumenist who prays and works daily to deepen the bonds of communion between us.”

The past 40 years or so had been “a fertile period of theological ecumenical work, the forging of deep and lasting friendships and an openness not present before”. What had been achieved was “surely in the area of grace, God’s grace working with and amongst us”, he said. “How far we have come together,” he said.

Fr McDermott’s remarks were greeted with prolonged applause.

In a debate on Christian unity yesterday afternoon, Bishop Richard Clarke of Meath and Kildare warned delegates “the work of unity is not a luxury, not a hobby, but it can very easily become detached from the life of the church”. Co-operation between religious traditions was so necessary “where the Government . . . and denominational education is concerned”. Soon “the question will be whether there is Christian education at all”, he said.