Church unlikely to let Casey say public Mass again
Published 18/03/2011 | 05:00
BISHOP Eamon Casey is unlikely to be allowed to say Mass in public again.
For the last five years, the now frail 83-year-old former Bishop of Galway has been compelled to say Mass alone in his own living room as the Vatican continues with its own investigation into allegations of abuse made against him by a woman.
The allegations, which date back more than 30 years, when Eamon Casey was a priest in Limerick, have already been investigated by gardai. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided in August 2006 that no prosecution was warranted.
It has since emerged the woman at the centre of the case had made similar unproven allegations against a number of other men.
However, the Catholic Church authorities have refused to say when, if ever, the ban on Bishop Casey saying Mass in public will be lifted.
In line with church policy regarding internal investigations, Bishop Casey remains banned from public ministry.
Both the Vatican and the Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, have refused to answer a series of questions on the reason for the lengthy church investigation.
Bishop Casey himself politely declined to be interviewed when approached at his home in Shanaglish, Co Galway.
Looking more frail than when he returned to Co Galway five years ago, he told the Irish Independent that, while he had endured some ill health in recent years, his health was now "great".
He apologised for being unable to speak about his continuing inability to say Mass in public, but many local people are firmly of the view he should be allowed to return to his public ministry.
The vast majority of priests in Galway are also believed to be fully supportive of Bishop Casey resuming his public ministry.
A number of priests have spoken of their desire to see the ban on him saying Mass in public lifted.
A senior priest of the Galway diocese who requested not to be identified, said this was the view of most of his colleagues.
"You would think that he would be allowed to say Mass at least in the convent in Gort. I think that's what he would like himself, but the powers that be in the church have decreed otherwise," the priest told the Irish Independent.
The Parish Priest of Gort, Fr Tommy Marrinan, who is a long-time friend of Dr Casey and meets him for lunch regularly, said that it would not be in Dr Casey's nature to question the church ruling.
"It's a decision for the church authorities and it'd be great if he could (say Mass in public again). It's a pity he cannot," Fr Marrinan said.
"But he is a churchman to his fingertips and he won't question the authorities."