Friday 19 January 2018

Worried priests will withdraw from people, says Clifford

Barry Duggan and Michael Carr

ARCHBISHOP Dermot Clifford has warned that priests may withdraw from their parishioners as a result of the latest clerical-abuse revelations.

Speaking at St John's Cathedral in Limerick yesterday, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly said he hoped the revelations did not strain relations between priests and the people.

"It is important that priests should not get discouraged or be confined to the sacristy -- but be out among the people," he said.

"There is a danger today that priests may become withdrawn a bit from the people . . . (and) become cultic figures interested only in what happens in the church, sacristy and at the altar.

"It is good that (priests) . . . take care with liturgy, but it should be a preparation and a motivation to go out. With the problems of the past few years and the past few days, it may cause some . . . to avoid going out at all when they feel ashamed of what has happened.

"It is important priests would be with the people because people love their local priests and scandals won't put them off their love for their local priest even though what happened is a scandal and very regrettable."

Meanwhile, Mass-goers at St Colman's Cathedral, Cobh, Co Cork, yesterday expressed their anger and disappointment that Dr Clifford did not appear at yesterday's service.

A small congregation at 10am Mass heard Fr Michael Leamy read a prepared statement from the archbishop.

A handful of parishioners stood outside the church, listening to the statement on the PA, before promptly leaving when it was finished.

"I don't want to go inside the church," said one, "but I wanted to hear what he had to say. I don't think it's good enough (that Dr Clifford was not in attendance), and he should really be here in person."

The archbishop said in his statement that he understood people were "experiencing many different emotions, including shock, anger, disappointment and sadness at what (was) in this report".

Parishioners also expressed dismay at the absence of Bishop John Magee, a central figure in the Cloyne Report whose whereabouts are unknown since the report's publication.

"Surely (Bishop) Magee should be at least in Ireland, if not here," said Barry Kelleher from Cobh.

"I'd have thought the gardai would like to speak to him. People won't forget this."

Irish Independent

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