'We must respect all human life' - new bishop
The new bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora delivered a strongly pro-life message at his installation Mass yesterday, expressing concern that "human life from its tiniest origins" might be forgotten.
Galway-native Bishop Brendan Kelly was chosen by Pope Francis to lead the diocese last December.
At his installation, in a reference to the forthcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment he highlighted the plight of lives "in their weakness and innocence" which are under threat.
Addressing a packed Galway Cathedral on World Day of the Sick, Dr Kelly stressed the "immense dignity, respect and reverence that is due to every living person, regardless of ability, health, colour, size, nationality or otherwise".
Speaking to the Irish Independent after the ceremony, the bishop said he would be preaching the Gospel of Life in his diocese ahead of the referendum.
He rejected suggestions that he did not trust women on abortion.
"I trust women absolutely," the 71-year-old said. "I have no problem at all about that.
"Without all the women in my life, where would I be or any of us? I am so grateful to my mother for giving me life and so grateful she gave life to eight other children."
He revealed his mother had given birth to all her children in the family home. And, as the second eldest, he was present when seven of his siblings were born.
He added: "I know it is not easy - I saw what a woman goes through."
The ceremony was attended by President Michael D Higgins as well as the Lord Mayor of Galway, the Papal Nuncio, and other religious and civic leaders.
At the opening of the ceremony Bishop Kelly - who has volunteered with L'Arche Community in the past - gave an emotional welcome to Josie Antonio, an acolyte of Galway Cathedral who has an intellectual disability.
Mr Antonio served his first Mass for Bishop Kelly 40 years ago in the cathedral when the future bishop was a young priest.
Expressing dismay that in certain circles people were commonly referred to as "consumers", Dr Kelly expressed solidarity with the "hordes of desperate people clamouring at the shores of Europe as their homelands cannot sustain them anymore, ravaged as they are by modern wars and the excess consumption of resources by the ironically titled developed world of which we are part".
He added it was that same world that "supplied all the weapons of destruction and death".
The native of Derrybrien, Co Galway, spent time yesterday morning ahead of his installation praying at the tombs of his predecessors, including Bishop Eamon Casey, in the crypt of the cathedral.