New Archbishop urges church to listen to those it treated harshly

Francis Duffy installed as Archbishop of Tuam in reduced ceremony

The new Catholic Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy has promised to listen to all who have been treated harshly by the Church.

Reflecting on the Church’s past conduct he said “judgement prevailed and set the scene for harshness, not homeliness. Human dignity was not there for the living or the dead or the bereaved.”

He recalled how at the announcement of his appointment to Tuam last November he had said “to move forward we must listen to all who have been hurt by their experience of Church”.

It was also the case that on his pilgrimage to Knock in 2018 "Pope Francis spoke of this too, and said 'this open wound challenges us to be firm and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice.' Truth and justice are important and, in pursuit of both, I am willing to listen and to learn," the Archbishop said.


Archbishop Duffy was speaking at his installation in Tuam's Cathedral of the Assumption on Sunday afternoon. Praising his predecessor Archbishop Michael Neary, who has retired on age grounds, Archbishop Duffy said he followed "in the footsteps of a true shepherd who has led this diocese with great wisdom, sensitivity, and faithfulness for 27 years."

Recalling that a recent review of child protection in the Archdiocese had concluded that there was “evidence of a robust safeguarding structure and practice in place under the active and compassionate leadership of Archbishop Neary.”

He congratulated Archbishop Neary, thanked him, “and those in every parish who are vigilant in safeguarding.”

As priest numbers declined, he said there were not enough “to maintain the present parish arrangements. Structures have already been modified and more changes will be necessary.” The future of the Church was “part of the baptism call of every person, not just clergy or religious, but of all the baptised.”

Last week Archbishop Duffy asked that many who had been invited to today’s ceremony not attend. They had “reduced considerably the number of guests at this installation ceremony because of current risks arising from the terrible journey we have all had due to the virus,” he said today.

“Many people have suffered greatly during the last two years. Sadly, for some there has been death and bereavement, illness, loss of employment, risks and isolation,” he said.

“The experience of the lockdowns, the continuing threat and the restrictions have had a very negative impact on many people. We have also witnessed good neighbourliness, and those who continue with essential services and help keep us safe and keep life going as normally as possible.”

Towards the end of his homily Archbishop Duffy remembered his parents Frank and Mary Catherine, his wider family and friends, and all he had worked with in Cavan and Leitrim, as well as in his recent role as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.

Among those at today's ceremony were members of the Archbishop's family, some close friends, the papal nuncio Archbishop Jude Okolo, Archbishop Neary, retired and current West of Ireland Catholic bishops, and Church of Ireland Dean of Tuam Rev Alistair Grimason.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times