Showing trócaire to Bishop Casey
Sir, – The kindest thing published on the day after the Bishop Eamon Casey story broke in summer 1992, was the cartoon by Martyn Turner and the line (as recalled) “Who remembers all the other children he gave life to?”.
He did Trojan work with Trócaire over many years. Could we show trócaire to him now, at his passing. One great man – with his share of human weaknesses like the rest of us. – Yours, etc,
SEAMUS DEVITT CSsR,
Athenry, Co Galway.
Sir, – It is saddening to think, knowing all we now know, that a man felt he had to flee the country for falling in love and conceiving a child. Bishop Eamon Casey was human, with all the faults, failings and frailties our common humanity entails, but the capacity to love wasn’t one of them. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The late Bishop Eamon Casey, was a dynamic and charismatic figure who had an impressive record at home and abroad in what we now fashionably call development aid. He had a profound belief in the power and ability of communities, large and small, working together to effect change and improve their own lives and the lives of others.
Whether it was as a young priest setting up housing associations in the UK, initially for Irish immigrants to access affordable housing, that went on to become a national model adopted by the UK government in the 1960s or whether it was as a bishop in being the first leader of Trócaire, set up by the Irish hierarchy to channel aid to developing countries, Eamonn Casey was a figure who effected change that improved the quality of life for countless thousands of people across the globe.
While being aware that money and resources are important tools in the relief of poverty, as chair of Trócaire, Eamonn Casey was one of the early figures internationally to appreciate the power of emerging mass media and the platform it could give to the emerging area of advocacy as a powerful and necessary tool in the arsenal of an NGO. Advocacy was the tool used to call attention to the causes of poverty and advancing the view that greater social justice could be a major influence in the eradication of the conditions that often caused avoidable poverty, particularly in places such as Central and South America.
He was a master communicator, who knew the power of a bit of humour to warm up a crowd or a congregation for the serious message or task ahead. He had a great empathy with people and they with him.
He never appeared to lecture but more to encourage and cajole.
His apparent transgression in fathering a son with another consenting adult now seems trivial in light of the truly appalling revelations about many in the church that have emerged in recent years.
Yet, while the powers that be in the roman Catholic Church actively covered up heinous crimes by numerous members of their own clergy, the same powers ostracised Eamonn Casey in a way that few others were ostracised. Was it because he was too charismatic and too popular?
He became a non-person who was only allowed back to Ireland in later life, after years of initially at least self-imposed exile, on the apparent condition that he make no public pronouncement of any kind. He was seen as an embarrassment.
In a few years, a few decades at most, when we will have both female priests and married priests, we will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.
And why a good man was treated so shabbily. May he rest in peace. – Yours, etc,