'Casey made mistakes for which he paid a high price'- retired Bishop of Galway tells mourners
Bishop Eamonn Casey made mistakes in life for which he paid a high price, the retired Bishop of Galway has said.
Bishop Martin Drennan was speaking as he welcomed the mortal remains of Bishop Casey back to Galway Cathedral – the bishop’s seat which he had been forced to abruptly abandon a quarter century ago amid a welter of controversy about his private life.
Up to 1,000 people joined a large number of diocesan priests, close relatives and friends at the celebrated “Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas” for a simple 15-minute prayer service.
Relatives of the former Bishop of Galway and of Kerry travelled from all over the country to pay their last respects to their much-loved family member.
The largest group were nephews and nieces along with grand-nephews and grand-nieces of the 79-year-old former bishop, and best known of these is his nephew, Pat Casey, now a Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow.
But neither his son, Peter, nor the bishop’s former companion, Annie Murphy, travelled from the USA for the funeral. One family member said Peter had been in touch and signalled his intention to come to Ireland later this year for a quiet visit.
It was the revelation in 1992 that Bishop Casey had fathered a son with Ms Murphy, back in 1974, which led to his abrupt resignation as Bishop of Galway. In recent years his son, Peter, had become reconciled to his father and visited him on occasion.
A message of sympathy from the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Seán Brady, was read out.
Earlier yesterday, Dr Brady called at the Galway funeral home where the remains were reposing and met and prayed with many of Bishop Casey’s relatives.
During a short homily, Bishop Martin Drennan, who retired on grounds of failing health in 2016, said he would like to take one lesson from the life of Bishop Eamonn Casey. He cited the writings of St Therese of Lisieux who had said she wanted to go to God in death with “empty hands.”
Bishop Drennan said St Therese’s honesty allowed her “turn her wounds into wisdom”.
He said Eamonn Casey believed some things were worth fighting for in life – and this made wounds inevitable.
“He made mistakes during his life and paid a high price for them. As far as I could see he never resorted to self-pity. His love for the Church enabled him to accept retirement from active ministry bravely,” Bishop Drennan said.
Bishop Drennan also said Bishop Casey faced a number of challenges when he went to live at Carrigoran Nursing Home in Clare. He had to face the challenge of adjusting from a previously active life – and he succeeded.
“Secondly, there was the issue of giving up one thing that gave him many a thrill, driving his car. He let that go too. That was wisdom at work,” Bishop Drennan said.
The Bishop said that as Eamonn Casey’s memory deteriorated he recalled positive aspects, especially his years in London.