'No-show' priest reveals he's leaving Dublin as Archbishop moves to draw line under unholy controversy
ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin has apologised to a Dublin congregation after a priest failed to show up for Mass last weekend.
The Dublin diocese chief also described Culture Minister Josepha Madigan's intervention as "praiseworthy", having earlier in the week accused her of using the occasion to "push a particular agenda".
Ms Madigan stepped up to lead her local congregation in prayer last Saturday evening after the priest's no-show.
Father Edmond Grace apologised to parishioners last night and told the congregation that he will be leaving Dublin to take up a new role in Brussels.
Speaking to the 'Irish Mail on Sunday', he said it had nothing to do with last weekend's events and had been planned for some time.
When asked for his reaction to Minister Madigan 'saying Mass', he said: "Basically, I would tell you the separation of Church and State has to work in both directions and I will leave it at that".
The archbishop told gatherers at the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion in Dublin yesterday that the failure of Father Edmond Grace to show up for mass was "a mistake that should not have happened".
"In the first place, I would like to apologise for the fact that the priest who was designated to celebrate the Mass on last Saturday failed to turn up," he said.
"This was not a planned event, but an unfortunate mistake."
Archbishop Martin also stated he never expressed issues with a woman leading prayers.
"I never said that it was inappropriate in such a situation for the community to gather in prayer.
"It was indeed praiseworthy. Neither did I say that in such a situation the prayer ought not to be led by a woman. This is something that happens in such situations elsewhere."
He further added that divisions and misunderstandings have "marked the history of the Church from its earliest days".
"We have to find ways in which divisions can be addressed within the Christian community in ways that are typical of the Christian community, through dialogue, through mutual respect and where Christian charity always prevails," he said.
"Divisions must be addressed and the message of Jesus demands a radical leap out of conformity."
Ms Madigan, who led Fine Gael’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, told Independent.ie during the week it was “sad reflection of the times we live in” that there are so few priests.
However, the archbishop once again reiterated his response, stating there isn't a shortage of priests.
"The situation was not due to the fact of a shortage of priests. A priest had been designated. My concern was that such a situation that was unplanned should have been escalated into something else."