Church was in need of painful surgery, says new bishop


The Irish Catholic Church had been brought to its knees, “but maybe that is no bad thing”, the new Catholic Bishop of Clogher Liam McDaid said at his ordination ceremony in Monaghan yesterday.

He also invited people and priests of the diocese to join him on a “repentant return to the well of salvation”.

A native of Bundoran, Co Donegal, Bishop McDaid said “society has forced us in the Irish church to look into the mirror, and what we saw were weakness and failure, victims and abuse. The surgeon’s knife has been painful but necessary. A lot of evil and poison has been excised.

“There comes a time when the surgeon’s knife has done what it can, is put away, and a regime of rehabilitation for the patient is put in place.

“We have been brought to our knees, but maybe that is no bad thing. It can bring us closer to the core of the mystery.”

He continued: “So while society keeps the mirror in front of us and rightly checks that we are sincere in our intentions and efforts towards rehabilitation, can I invite you, priests and people of the diocese of Clogher, to join me in a repentant return to the well of salvation.

“The journey will include, for many, facing the enormous challenge of forgiveness.

“Despite his intense suffering, Jesus forgave those who mocked, spat at, scourged and abused him. One of the co-crucified could not bring himself beyond abuse and excluded himself; the other rose to embracing forgiveness, and was welcomed into the kingdom. There are many painful experiences in life where only forgiveness can bring closure.”

In a homily at the ordination ceremony, Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor spoke of “an urgent need” for an active laity in renewal of the church. “Opening a new furrow of involvement on the part of Christian men and women and of groups combining religious faith with empirical and professional knowledge and insight is sine qua nonfor the work of evangelisation in this country, as elsewhere,” he said.

“The urgent need for proactive Catholic lay activists, who are brave, committed and informed, is fundamental to the renewal of our knowledge and appreciation of the beauty of spiritual dynamism of the Christian faith and heritage, and to the renewal of the church in this country,” he said.

Both bishops paid warm tribute to retiring bishop of Clogher Joseph Duffy, a bishop for 31 years.

The ordination Mass was celebrated by Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady. Among the attendance were Capt Niamh O’Mahony, aide-de-camp to the President; Taoiseach Brian Cowen; Tánaiste Mary Coughlan; Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA; and local TDs Rory O’Hanlon, Seymour Crawford and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

Also present were papal nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher Michael Jackson, and senior Garda and PSNI officers.

A Catholic bishop criticised clericalism in the church and another reflected on the lack of accountability on the part of bishops in a one-hour Would You Believespecial on RTÉ last night.

If there was to be “a new structure or new kind of church it would have to be one where power and influence and ‘say’ is shared right across the church”, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said.

Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh said: “I would feel within myself a tension between loyalty to a church structure and I suppose what my lived experience is on the ground. I would often feel that tension and a whole lack of accountability. . . . I am accountable only to Rome which is 3,000 miles away.”