Friday 18 October 2019

“Decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always wrong” – newly appointed Bishop of Kildare

Sarah Mac Donald

The newly announced Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin has said “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong”.

In his address accepting his appointment by Pope Francis, Fr Denis Nulty reiterated the Catholic Bishops’ preliminary response to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.

The Co Meath parish priest called for best medical and psychiatric care to be made available during pregnancy to mothers “when the lives of two persons – the life of the unborn and the life of the mother – are at stake”.

Referring to the thirst for hope in the current economic circumstances, he acknowledged the concerns of those “living in negative equity in the commuter belt; those coping with the stress of the daily treadmill; those out of work searching for a deeper appreciation of their self-worth and dignity; farmers coping with the fodder crisis and late spring”.

He said he was also conscious of those who had been wounded by the Church and the terrible sins of individuals who “inflicted pain and destruction on too many”.

Fifty year old Fr Denis Nulty is currently the parish priest of Saint Mary’s in Drogheda and has twenty-five years of pastoral experience. The bishop-elect will become the youngest Bishop in the Irish Church. At the time of his appointment to Drogheda, he was the youngest parish priest in the country.

Kildare and Leighlin has been waiting for three years for a replacement for Bishop Jim Moriarty who stepped down in April 2010 following criticism of him in the Murphy Report into clerical abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin.

The Murphy report said Bishop Moriarty had failed to challenge the prevailing culture in the archdiocese of Dublin when he was an auxiliary bishop there. He was auxiliary for 11 years until he was named bishop of Kildare and Leighlin in 2002.

This is the second appointment to the Irish hierarchy by Pope Francis and follows last week’s announcement of a new bishop of Kerry.

Responding to the announcement, Kildare and Leighlin’s current administrator, Monsignor Brendan Byrne, described the news as “long-awaited” and extended a warm welcome to the bishop-elect.

“Father Denis is a native of Slane, where Saint Patrick lit the Easter fire. We welcome him to this diocese where in ancient days Brigid lit the fire of Christ in Kildare and Laserian (Molaise) nurtured that same flame of faith in Leighlin”, Monsignor Byrne said.

Referring to Fr Nulty’s height, Mgr Bryne described joked that the diocese of Meath had sent them “their tallest priest”.  He added, “While this guarantees that we will all look up to our new Bishop, we look forward to sharing that deeper bond in which we will ‘see eye to eye’, and know ourselves truly to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

Bishop Jim Moriarty and Bishop Michael Smith of Meath attended the official announcement. Catholic Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady paid tribute to Father Nulty’s new diocese as “a place of vibrant faith today”. Bishop Michael Smith said Fr Nulty “brings to his ministry intelligence and approachability, rooted in a deep faith, and appreciated by all who crossed his path”.

Born in Slane Co Meath on 7 June 1963, Fr Nulty is the youngest of five children of Den Nulty and Nan Balfe.

From a farming background, he attended Saint Patrick’s National School in Slane and Secondary School at Saint Patrick’s Classical School in Navan where he did his Leaving Certificate in 1981.

He studied for the priesthood in Maynooth, beginning his studies straight from school in September 1981. He completed a B.A. in 1984 and a B.D. in 1987 at Maynooth before being ordained a priest for the Diocese of Meath in Saint Patrick’s Church, Slane on 12 June 1988 by Bishop Michael Smith.

In September 1988 he was appointed a curate in Mullingar Cathedral where he served for ten years until 1998. He was then appointed parish priest of Saint Mary’s in Drogheda where he has remained until the present day.

He has an M.A. in Management for the Pastoral and Voluntary Services from DCU which he studied for at All Hallows College, Dublin. He also brings important administrative experience from his years as a vicar forane for the Duleek Deanery in Meath Diocese which comprises seven parishes and as chairperson of the Council of Priests in the Diocese of Meath for the past eight years.

Kildare and Leighlin covers 56 parishes across Carlow and parts of counties Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny and Wexford. It has a Catholic population of 248,000.  There are 95 priests in active ministry and another 22 retired.

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