Bishop of Kerry apologises for priest’s sermon attacking gay people

Listowel church-goers left shocked at priest’s sermon and walked out in protest

Fr Sean Sheehy.

By Stephen Fernane

Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne has apologised for derogatory comments made by Fr Sean Sheehy that resulted in over 30 parishioners walking out of Mass at St Mary’s Church in Listowel at the weekend.

he diocese of Kerry was quick to distance itself from Fr Sheehy’s sermon that condemned transgenderism, same-sex couples, and supplying condoms to teenagers.

Shocked Mass-goers were subjected to an outpouring of anger from the pulpit, which many deemed tactless, insensitive, and represented a throwback to the days of clerical authority.

Fr Sheehy – who is deputising for Listowel Parish Priest Canon Declan O’Connor– criticised Government legislation around what he said was the promotion of abortion and described the ‘lunatic approach of transgenderism’.

We see it, for example, in the promotion of sex between two men and two women. That is sinful. That is a mortal sin and people don’t seem to realise it,” he said.

“It’s a fact, a reality, and we need to listen to God about it because if we don’t, then there is no hope for those people.”

Fr Sheehy went on to say that sin was rampant and told parishioners they had a responsibility to ‘seek out’ those who are lost and to call people to an awareness that sin is destructive, detrimental and would lead people to hell.

Fr Sheehy was heckled by parishioners, many of whom left the church. But undeterred, he continued his homily adding that people should admit they are sinners.

“There are people who won’t like what I’m saying, but the day you die you’ll find out what I’m saying is what God is saying…Those of you who happen to be leaving today, God help you. That’s all I have to say to you. And God bless you who are here and worshiping God,” he said.

Fr Sheehy continued: “I was talking to a woman a few weeks ago whose 17-year-old daughter was out with friends in Tralee. She came home and handed her mother a condom…a HSE van was handing these out in Tralee.

“That is promoting promiscuity. That is horrible, horrible. As Christians, we need to stand up for God. If we don’t there is no hope for many people.”

In a statement, Bishop Browne said he is aware of the deep upset and hurt caused by the contents of Fr Sheehy’s homily.

“I apologise to all who were offended. The views expressed do not represent the Christian position. The homily at a regular weekend parish Mass is not appropriate for such issues to be spoken of in such terms. I regret that this has occurred while a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land is taking place,” Bishop Browne said.

Bishop Browne said the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is a Gospel of love and ever proclaims the dignity of every human person, and that Jesus calls on us all to have total respect for one another.

In 2009, Fr Sheehy was also embroiled in con­troversy when he, and many others, shook hands in a court­room with a man convicted of sex assault. This was criticised by the then Bishop of Kerry, Bill Mur­phy.

The latest controversy comes amid the Church’s recent survey among Catholics around the world regarding lay positions on the Church’s future.

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