Paedophiles hurt church more than secularism - priest


A PARISH priest has blamed paedophile clerics and how they were handled by the church authorities for doing more damage than secularism to the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Fr John Walsh said that while secularism “undermines” religious ministry, the worst attacks to the church came from inside the church itself.

“The church can come under attack from outside. In our own times, secularism undermines the church’s mission,” said Fr Walsh.

“But the most insidious attacks against the church come from inside itself. For the last several decades we have seen the damage that has been done to the church in Ireland by paedophile members, particularly priests and religious, and by the way church authorities in Ireland have dealt with them.”

Fr Walsh, the parish priest of Buncrana, Co Donegal, was speaking during an open-air Mass to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of Catholic martyr Fr James Hegarty, beheaded in 1711 by the British army.

The friar, parish priest of the locality, was betrayed by his sister’s husband and their two sons, who got £50 for being informants.

Fr Walsh told the anniversary congregation: “In 2011, we are called to be faithful disciples of Our Lord and to bring much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved church.

“Like Fr Hegarty, we must not flinch. We must hold fast to our beliefs and our practices, no matter how severe the onslaughts, no matter how deep the self-inflicted wounds.”

The Mass was held on Sunday at Fr Hegarty’s Rock, located on a shore walk about 2km from Buncrana. Principal concelebrant was the Bishop of Derry, Dr Seamus Hegarty.

Fr Walsh called on parishioners to resolve to “build up our domestic church” by improving personal relationships with loved ones, including “our partners, our parents, our children, our siblings, our relatives, our neighbours”.

He also urged people to fight alcohol abuse, as the martyred priest did in the 18th century.

“Fr Hegarty and his colleagues fought against drink abuse. We, too, have a need so to do. Drink and drug abuse have a grip on our society.

“Let us live our own lives soberly and let us encourage those who follow close behind us to do the same,” added Fr Walsh.