Church must reach out to those on the margins, says new Cork bishop

Bishop Fintan Gavin apologises at ordination to those who suffered clerical child sex abuse

The Catholic Church must reach out to those on the margins and those who have lost their faith if it is to be an authentic Christian community, the new Bishop of Cork and Ross, has told massgoers at his ordination.

Dr Fintan Gavin (53) told a packed Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork that Pope Francis has reminded people the mission of the church is to reach out to those who have lost faith and apologise to those who the church has failed.

“Pope Francis reminds us the mission of the Church, the People of God is to go beyond itself, to be open and welcoming, reaching out to those on the margins and the peripheries, going towards the last, the lost, and least among us.

“He names among those on the margins as the hungry, the unemployed, those in prison, those who have lost their faith. As a Christian community if we are to be authentic, we need to be in solidarity and reach out in concrete action.

“To those who have lost their faith or are struggling to hang in there because of the awful things individuals or institutions have done in the name of the Church, we need to stretch out a hand of dialogue and listening so their voices are heard.”

Engaging in that process of dialogue and listening would enable the church to apologise again for the terrible things which the church had allowed to happen including clerical child sex abuse, he added.

Bishop Gavin paid tribute to all the priests, nuns, brothers, deacons and volunteers who have worked to change the perception of the church by making parishes and diocesan places safer for children and vulnerable adults.

He paid particular tribute to Cork and Ross diocesan director of safeguarding Cleo Yates and her committee, who he said have worked tirelessly to make the diocese a safer place for children

“We stand in solidarity with survivors and their families and we continue our commitment and vigilance to the protection and safeguarding of children in our Church and in society,” he said.


A Dubliner with family roots in Marino, Bishop Gavin paid tribute to his predecessor, Bishop John Buckley who is stepping down after 22 years as bishop of the diocese, which has a Catholic population of about 285,000.

The diocese is comprised of 68 parishes and currently has 80 active priests.

Bishop Buckley, who was the principal consecrator at the ordination mass along with his co-consecrators, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly of Cashel and Emly, warmly welcomed his successor to Cork.

"There have been only four bishops in Cork since 1916, Bishop Coholan, Bishop Lucey, Bishop Murphy agus mé féin. Cork bishops are noted for their longevity. Today therefore is a milestone in the life of the diocese," he said.

Describing Bishop Gavin as “a man of wide and varied administrative and pastoral experience”, Bishop Buckley said he knew that after spending the past few months on Leeside, his successor “feels very much at home here in Cork”.

In his homily Fr Robert Young, Parish Priest in Kinsale, thanked Bishop Gavin's parents, Michael and Angela for supporting two of their children, Bishop Gavin and his brother Fr Morgan to become priests.

Among those to attend Bishop Gavin's ordination was Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland as well as about 150 priests from Cork and Ross and other dioceses.

Also in attendance were representatives of other faiths including Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, Rev Denis Maguire of the Methodist Church and members of the Cork ecumenical standing committee.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times