A PRIEST has hit out at what he called "the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics" at his final Mass before he begins a "sabbatical".
Close to 1,500 people – including members of the Muslim and Baha'i faiths – attended Fr Iggy O'Donovan's final Mass at the Augustinian Church in Drogheda yesterday and heard the mayor of the town, Richie Culhane, claim that "ultra conservative" elements have forced the Augustinians to "push" Fr Iggy out of Drogheda.
The priest has denied reports he has been silenced by Rome, but many see the decision to move him from Drogheda to Limerick, where he will be on sabbatical, as a move taken in response to complaints about his liturgy.
Fr Iggy is known for encouraging young people and other members of the community to take part in the Mass.
Yesterday Fr Iggy said he could not leave the town without making reference to Fr Tony Flannery. "If I had not been made aware firsthand of the details of his case I could not have given it credence," he said.
"Even hardened veterans are shaken by the murkiness of the devious world of ecclesiastical politics."
Fr Iggy asked: "How has it come to this, that a great and good priest like Tony. . . is persecuted with a zeal that is as pathological as the paranoia that feeds it?
"How has it come to this, that intolerant and extreme right-wingers – encouraged apparently by certain authorities, and career-oriented priests – can meet in solemn conclave to determine who is guilty of what these people label heresy?
"How has it come to this that sincere thinking Catholics are walking away from our church believing that the battle for sane Catholicism is lost?
"I still believe ... that Catholicism is compatible with modern culture," he added, saying he deeply welcomes the arrival of Pope Francis.
At the conclusion of the Mass the Mayor of Drogheda, Richie Culhane, addressed the congregation and said he believed Fr Iggy was leaving because, "ultra-conservative elements within the church have forced the hierarchy to push Iggy further afield and out of Drogheda here."
By Elaine Keogh